Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.
For edition characteristics applicable to this series as a whole, see the Edition article.]
This woodblock print was produced from an original painting on silk dating from the late 1920s whose current location is unknown.
The indentification of this design as number 33 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 33rd design in his series of one hundred woodblock prints called 楽山花鳥畫譜, Rakuzan Kachou Gafu
, lit. 'Rakusan's Flower and Bird Print Series'.
The first printing run of about two hundred copies of 33 was completed and the design published in September 1930 in installment seventeen (of fifty). (The exact printing and publication dates are unknown since no copies of the installment seventeen delivery documents have yet been located.) Additional edition I printings may have continued until 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I. No later edition printings of 33 are currently documented.
An edition I copy of 33 is one of a very few designs to which Rakusan added a handwritten rendition of his Japanese title-caption (omitting the season designation).
Rakusan considered 33 to be one of his best designs and included it in at least three formal presentation albums between 1935 and 1940.
33alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 33 as a preview advertisement (see Related Designs below).
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI, USA; (1938) 11000; [illustrated online].
Sumac (Wax Tree), Rhus succedanea
, (黄)櫨, haze
, is now often called (黄)櫨の木, haze-no-ki
, lit. 'sumac tree'.
Later writing in English, Rakusan used a variant English spelling, "Sumach".
The descriptor 紅葉, kouyou
, lit. 'red-leaf', refers to leaves which have turned color (especially red) in autumn, rather than to a variety of the tree.
In his simplified English translation for the title-caption of 33 Rakusan ignored the color descriptor.
(However, elsewhere in this series on design number 62
, Rakusan translated this descriptor into English as 'red autumn___ leaves' and that translation is used here.)
The gray masses hanging amid the leaves are the seed clusters.
Japanese Grosbeak (Masked Hawfinch), Eophona personata, has many names in Japanese.
Today the bird would be called いかる or イカル, ikaru, 'great-beak' (a loan-translation of 'grosbeak') which can be written in kanji as 鵤, 斑鳩, lit. 'pied pigeon'; or 桑鳲, lit. 'mulberry pigeon'.
(斑鳩 can also be read ikaruga or hankyuu.)
From the fancied resemblance of the large bill to a bean the bird may also be called 豆鳥 ,mame-dori, lit. 'bean-bird'; or 豆回し, mame-mawashi, lit. 'bean-turner' (from the way it moves its bill as it eats).
In his rendition of the title-caption into English Rakusan transliterated the Japanese name rather than using the common English name (which he likely did not know).
Therefore although he wrote 桑鳲, which is normally read today as ikaru, we know Rakusan meant the name to be read as mamemawashi.