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篁子生石摺畵選 (篁子生石摺り画選)
Koushisei Ishizuri Gasen [Fan Series]


Rakusan spent the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 producing two parallel series of woodblock prints. His decisions to use a different format for each series, and to market the two series separately, obscure the fact that both were actually produced as part of the same project. Because copies of several of the original distribution documents have survived, many of the publication details are known and most of the rest can be reconstructed.

The larger of the two series comprises one hundred eighty fan designs woodblock-printed as negative images using a single impression of black ink. This traditional negative-image printing style is called 石摺(り), ishi-zuri, lit. 'stone-rubbing', from its superficial resemblance to that technique. Rakusan titled this series 篁子生石摺畵選 (篁子生石摺り画選), Koushisei Ishizuri Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Stone-rubbing Print Selections', which for convenience is usually called here the Fan Series. The image at the top of this page is this series title in Rakusan's own calligraphy from a woodblock-printed label which was originally applied to the manila-paper folio envelopes used to deliver the prints.

The other smaller (but much better known) series consists of thirty-six polychrome woodblock prints which Rakusan called 篁子生畵選 (篁子生画選), Koushisei Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Print Selections'. Here that title is generally reserved primarily for the two-series project as a whole, and the polychrome series is informally called the 36 Series. (The 36 Series is discussed and illustrated separately in the immediately preceding gallery.)

The two series were produced and marketed at the same time and have many direct connections. Most importantly, both series are arranged into thirty-six distinct shared-subject groups which were published in the same sequential order (and at the same time) in both series. Rakusan referred to these groups as 畵選 (画選), gasen, 'print selections' (as in the series title). However, this same-subject group which has members in both series is more accurately described as a theme, 画題, gadai (lit. 'print theme'), and in discussions here that terminology has been substituted.

Rakusan planned to publish five Fan Series designs (one design in each of five different fan silhouette shapes) for each of thirty-six themes. He typically first assembled a Fan Series group and then painted the 36 Series design to unite those elements and thereby define the theme subject. The original names Rakusan used for twenty-three of his thirty-six themes (which probably also served as the individual titles for their 36 Series designs) are documented and have been retained here. Similarly constructed names taken wherever possible from other Rakusan titles have been created for the remaining themes until Rakusan's original names can be determined. A few older style names are followed by modern transcriptions enclosed in parentheses.

The Fan Series prints were issued in twelve monthly installments of three themes each, fifteen designs per installment, making up a series total of one hundred eighty prints. (Rakusan referred to these installments as 輯, shuu, 'series', but on this website series is reserved for the larger unit comprising all of the installments.) Distribution to series subscribers of the first installment of Fan Series prints began in January 1934 and was supposed to be completed with a twelfth installment delivered in December 1934. However, due to delays and additional plan modifications, printing and distribution took longer than expected, and at least three monthly deliveries were skipped. As a result, the final twelfth installment could not have been delivered until March 1935 at the earliest. However, subsequent problems could have delayed completion of the series by an additional month or more. Only a single, small, print run of each Fan Series design was ever produced; and all copies are labeled as edition I (even though there are no other editions).

The wooden blocks for each of the Fan Series designs were carved during one of three sequential periods. These periods are characterized and defined by the seal predominately used on newly carved designs. Rakusan had changed his mind about exactly which thirty-six subjects to use as themes only after the wooden blocks for some of the fan prints had already been carved. Not wanting to waste previously prepared material, Rakusan modified the compositions of several of his themes. When he merged two partially completed themes into one, duplication of fan shapes occasionally resulted. This irregularity could require an offsetting omission of other fan shapes in the same installment to be sure that each installment would have exactly fifteen prints. Rakusan was able to accommodate the necessary omissions by not creating designs to infill themes then still lacking designs. (Notes regarding theme irregularities have been included in the gallery below.) During the production of the series were months where no designs appeared as Rakusan revised his planned sequence order and the components of certain themes.

Rakusan tended to devalue all of his monochromatic designs and did not include any of them, including the Fan Series, in his main sequence numbering. Therefore, the original number he used for each of the corresponding 36 Series prints has been modified to identify also the Fan Series members of its theme. The five different fan silhouette shapes have been here assigned the identifying numbers 1 through 5 which are added to the 36 Series number separated by a hyphen. Where two designs of the same fan shape occur in the same theme, one has been arbitrarily designated A, and the other B.

The Fan Series prints were originally sold unbound but tipped onto the same embossed presentation sheets also initially used for the 36 Series designs. Unfortunately, the fan designs were printed on flimsy paper which typically scrunches, creases, and tears easily. As a result, all of the documented collections are missing at least a few designs which were presumably damaged and discarded. Rakusan is believed to have destroyed the original paintings on which the fan designs were modeled, and none are known to have survived.

The Fan Series designs are illustrated below arranged into the thirty-six themes of the series in the order of their publications. For ease of reference each 36 Series design is included here at the end of its theme.

[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage with larger images, additional design details, and reference links.]

Themes / 画題
[First Installment (101-103)]
101 Rose
101 薔薇 (バラ)

101-1

101-2

101-3A

101-3B

101-4

101-5
[duplicated shape 3]
101
102 Rabbitear Iris
102 かきつばた (カキツバタ)
(see also 128)

102-1A

102-1B

102-4

102-5
[duplicated shape 1] [lacking shapes 2, 3]
102
103 Tree-peony
103 牡丹 (ボタン)
(see also 117)

103-1

103-2

103-3

103-4

103-5

103
[Second Installment (104-106)]
104 Lily
104 百合 (ユリ)

104-1

104-2

104-3

104-4

104-5

104
105 Butterfly
105 蝶 (チョウ)

105-1

105-2

105-3

105-4

105-5

105
106 Quince
106 ぼけ (ボケ)

106-1

106-2

106-3

106-4

106-5

106
[Third Installment (107-109)]
107 Morning Glory
107 朝顔 (アサガオ)

107-1

107-2

107-3

107-4

107-5

107
108 Goldfish and Medaka
108 金魚に目高
(108 キンギョにメダカ)
(see also 135)

108-1

108-2

108-3

108-4

108-5

108
109 Eggplant
109 茄子 (ナス)

109-1

109-2

109-3

109-4

109-5

109
[Fourth Installment (110-112)]
110 Persimmon
110 柿 (カキ)

110-1

110-2

110-3

110-4

110-5

110
111 Grape
111 葡萄 (ブドウ)

111-1

111-2

111-3

111-4

111-5

111
112 Pomegranate
112 柘榴 (ザクロ)

112-1

112-2

112-3

112-4

112-5

112
[Fifth Installment (113-115)]
113 Cockscomb
113 鶏頭 (ケイトウ)

113-1

113-2

113-3

113-4

113-5

113
114 Ivy
114 蔦 (ツタ)

114-1

114-2

114-3

114-4

114-5

114
115 Dahlia
115 ダリヤ (ダリア)

115-1

115-2

115-3

115-4

115-5

115
[Sixth Installment (116-118)]
116 Sasanqua Camellia
and Winterberry
116 山茶花に梅もどき
(116 サザンカにウメモドキ)
(see also 126, 129)

116-1

116-2

116-3

116-4

116-5

116
117 Winter Tree-peony
117 寒牡丹 (カンボタン)
(see also 103)

117-1

117-2

117-3

117-4

117-5

117
118 Winter Chrysanthemum
and Narcissus
118 寒菊に水仙
(118 カンキクにスイセン)

118-1

118-2

118-3

118-4

118-5

118
[Seventh Installment (119-121)]
119 Nandina
119 南天 (ナンテン)

119-1

119-3

119-4

119-5
[lacking shape 2]
119
120 Tea Flower
120 茶の花 (チャの花)

120-3

120-4

120-5
[lacking shapes 1, 2]
120
121 Kumazasa Bamboo-grass
and Pine
121 隈笹に松 (クマザサにマツ)
[folio has 熊笹に松笠]

121-1A

121-2A

121-4A

121-5A

121-1B

121-2B

121-4B

121-5B
[duplicated shapes 1, 2, 4, 5] [lacking shape 3 (A, B)]
121
[Eighth Installment (122-124)]
122 Wild Plum
122 野梅 (ヤバイ)
(see 123, 124)

122-1

122-2

122-3

122-4

122-5

122
123 Red Plum
123 紅梅 (コウバイ)
(see 122, 124)

123-1

123-2

123-3

123-4

123-5

123
124 Bonsai Plum
124 盆梅 (ボンバイ)
(see 122, 123)

124-1

124-2

124-3

124-4

124-5

124
[Ninth Installment (125-127)]
125 Pussywillow
125 猫柳 (ネコヤナギ)
[folio has 猫柳に鴫]

125-1

125-2

125-3

125-4

125-5

125
126 Wild Camellia
126 籔椿 (ヤブツバキ)
(see also 116, 129)

126-1

126-2

126-3

126-4

126-5

126
127 Shrimp and Clam
127 蝦に蛤 (エビにハマグリ)
(see also 131)

127-1

127-2

127-3

127-4

127-5

127
[Tenth Installment (128-130)]
128 Japanese Iris
128 花菖蒲 (ハナショウブ)
(see also 102)

128-1

128-2

128-3

128-4

128-5

128
129 Double Camellia
129 八重椿 (ヤエツバキ)
(see also 116, 126)

129-1

129-2

129-3

129-4

129-5

129
130 Cherry
130 桜 (サクラ)

130-1

130-2

130-3

130-4

130-5

130
[Eleventh Installment (131-133)]
131 Freshwater Crab
131 沢蟹 (サワガニ)
(see also 127)

131-1

131-2

131-3

131-4

131-5

131
132 Changeable
Rosemallow
132 酔芙蓉 (スイフヨウ)
(see also 134, 136)

132-1

132-2

132-3

132-4

132-5

132
133 Clematis
133 鉄線 (テッセン)

133-1

133-2

133-3

133-4

133-5

133
[Twelfth Installment (134-136)]
134 Sichuan Mallow
134 蜀葵 (ショッキ)
(see also 132, 136)

134-1

134-2

134-3

134-4

134-5

134
135 Freshwater Fish
135 淡水魚 (タンスイギョ)
(see also 108)

135-1

135-2

135-3

135-4

135-5

135
136 Hollyhock
136 立葵 (タチアオイ)
(see also 132, 134)

136-1

136-2

136-3

136-4

136-5

136
© 2009 (revisions and subpages © 2012, 2013, 2015) Dr Michael J P Nichols

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