[modernly supplied title]


suifuyou ni kawasemi

Changeable Rosemallow and Kingfisher


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

132 Changeable Rosemallow Theme / 132 スイフヨウ画題

Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I (only edition): 楽山篁子生 Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei + Seal B

[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.]

Series History and Definitions:
During the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 Rakusan produced a series of 180 individual woodblock-printed fan designs. These fan designs are printed as negative images with a single impression of black ink. Although all are actually woodblock prints, this traditional negative-image printing style is called 石摺(り), ishi-zuri, lit. 'stone rubbing', from its superficial resemblance to that technique. Rakusan called this series 篁子生石摺画選, Koushisei Ishizuri Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Stone-rubbing Print Selection', but it is usually called here the Fan Series.

Rakusan arranged the Fan Series prints into shared-subject groups typically consisting of one design in each of five different fan silhouette shapes. Each of these groups of Fan Series designs are united by a corresponding polychrome 36 Series design which defines the subject. Each shared-subject Fan Series group and its 36 Series design together comprise a theme (画題, gadai).

Rakusan did not include the Fan Series in his main sequence numbering. Therefore, the original number used for each of the 36 Series prints has been modified to identify the Fan Series members of its theme. The five different fan silhouette shapes have been here assigned arbitrary numbers 1 through 5. To indicate a fan design these shape designations are added to the 36 Series number separated by a hyphen. 132-2 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 2 in the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme. Like all other designs in this series, 132-2 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
The 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. The Fan Series prints of the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme were distributed in early 1935 in installment eleven (of twelve), but the delivery documents for installment eleven remain to be discovered. The series as originally announced would have seen this installment published in November 1934. However, with documented delays the earliest month it could actually have been delivered is February 1935, and it may well have been even further delayed.

The signature and seal markings suggest that the designs in the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme were produced in at least two stages. Three of the five fan designs in this theme and the 36 Series design 132 have seal C which indicates a carving date during the first half of 1934. Despite the early completion of some of its wooden blocks, Rakusan delayed printing and distribution of the prints in what became the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme until the following year. It was eventually grouped with other summer season themes nearer to the end of the series. The other two fan designs (including 132-2) have seal B which suggests that those designs were carved closer to the time of publication.

The designs of the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme (and of the immediately following 133 Clematis theme) look very different from others in this series. These two themes include most of the examples in this project where Rakusan openly experimented with mining an external source for his designs. The majority of the designs in each of these two themes were taken directly from ones found in the Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Painting, 十竹斎書画譜, Jitchikusai Shogafu, a very famous and influential design book (here abbreviated TBS). First produced in China in the 17th century, TBS has been reproduced and reprinted in both China and Japan many times since. Rakusan would likely have used one of the later Japanese translations. In homage to this very well known source, Rakusan presented his Fan Series designs of these two themes in the original TBS style rather than in his own. (This experiment also included a scattering of additional designs in other themes. An article exploring all of Rakusan's adaptations from TBS is in preparation.)

In the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme, four of the five Fan Series designs (including 132-2) are taken directly from TBS, and the other is an original design in the TBS style. The 36 Series design 132 is entirely a Rakusan original composition in his own style and only the subjects are borrowed from TBS.

The entire composition of 132-2 is taken directly from the TBS design shown below. The design includes several sprays of rosemallow with a flower and a few buds. Sitting on one of the stems is a kingfisher. The blossom parts are very finely scribed, and the rest of the elements are in a very loose, silhouetted style. Rakusan closely matched the style of the TBS sketch. The copy illustrated here is in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums:

model for 132-2 (from TBS Harvard 1940.165.54)

The woodblock print of 132-2 was modeled closely on an actual-size original sumi sketch which although lost can be reconstructed by digitally reversing the image of the woodblock print:

132-2 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
Changeable Rosemallow, Hibiscus mutabilis, 酔芙蓉, すいふよう, スイフヨウ, sui-fuyou, is a distinctive shrub whose flowers open white and change to pink and then rose as the blossoms age. 酔, すい, スイ, sui, here means ‘intoxicated’; presumably for the gradual reddening of the flower. All of the examples in the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme, including 132, show fully double flowers, but single flowers also occur. It was often grown in gardens in the southern United States where it received many of its English common names including also Confederate Rose, Cotton Rosemallow, and Flowering Cotton. (The cotton plant grown commercially for fiber is a related species.)

Common (River) Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, 翡翠, 川蝉, かわせみ, カワセミ kawa-semi, 'kingfisher', is native to much of Eurasia, including Japan. Although there are other native kingfishers in Japan, Rakusan was very fond of this species, and he used it in several artworks.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 132 Changeable Rosemallow theme:
132-1 132-3 132-4 132-5 132

Other designs with a related species of rosemallow:

Other designs with kingfishers:
68 125-5 132