43 Edition I-a
43 Edition I-b

籔椿乃花にかちん鳥 (早春)

yabutsubaki no hana ni kachindori (soushun)

Wild Camellia Flowers and Crested Mynas (Early Spring)

ヤブツバキにハッカチョウ (早春)

Original Number


Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I-a, I-b: 楽山居 Raku-zan Kyo + 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.]

Design History:
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 43 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 43rd 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'.

43alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 43 as a preview advertisement.

Edition I-a: First edition I printing and publication of about two hundred copies of 43 was in February 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty-two (of fifty). In adapting design 43 onto wooden printing blocks several errors of interpretation were made. As a result, when printing of the design was completed, a half dozen or so small slivers and chips remained unprinted and the white paper showed through. For the initial distribution, these small errors were hand-corrected, including use of at least three colors of inks: light green, tan, and gray. This earliest version of 43 is called edition I-a and comprises about two thirds of the documented copies, including the first example illustrated above.

Edition I-b: At some later point (but still within the edition I period) Rakusan decided to stop correcting the small printing errors on copies of 43. The later-distributed uncorrected copies of 43 are called edition I-b and comprise about one third of the documented copies, including the second example illustrated above. In edition I-b the uncorrected bright white areas can be seen near the foot of the bird on the left (above and to the left of the water hole in the branch), and also variously in the foliage in the lower third of the image. (Note that the white areas in the wings of the birds (and in the blossoms and buds) are actually woodblock-printed in white ink on all copies and are not unprinted errors.) The total numbers of both versions combined suggest that there were only two printings of 43 before mid 1933 when the series was completed and edition I printing ceased. It is unclear if the uncorrected version, edition I-b, was a separate, smaller reprinting, or if the later printing was only partially corrected.

No later edition printings of 43 are known, and currently all documented copies of 43 come from edition I. Aside from the treatment of the printing errors, the various colors of each of the edition I copies is essentially the same. Unfortunately, the best example copies were imaged under different lighting conditions, and therefore the colors appear more different here than they really are in person.

Species Illustrated:
Japanese Camellia, Camellia japonica, 椿, つばき, ツバキ, tsubaki, has been extensively hybridized and selected to modify its flower form, habit, and blooming time. As the name implies, it is a Japanese native which still grows wild as well as in gardens. The original form is winter-blooming and often flowers covered in snow. For 43, and the related designs linked below, Rakusan illustrates a small, bell-shaped flower of brilliant red which encloses a brush-like cluster of yellow stamens, which is the most common wild form. This variety occurs in more Rakusan compositions than any other camellia, and here he calls it 籔椿, やぶつばき, ヤブツバキ, yabu-tsubaki, lit. 'thicket camellia'. It may also be called 山椿, やまつばき,ヤマツバキ, yama-tsubaki, lit. 'mountain camellia'. Neither of these names are varietal names but instead mean 'wild camellia'. However, this and all other camellias may simply be called 'camellia'.

Although he had access to many varieties of camellias, Rakusan depicted only three different kinds in his woodblock prints, and examples of each appear in the 100 Series. The other two kinds of Rakusan camellias are at numbers 5 and 26, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.

Included in the composition, but not mentioned in the title-caption, is a large form of bamboo, 竹, take.

The birds are drinking from water collected in a hollowed branch-scar on a large tree limb. The tree appears to be too large to be a camellia, but exactly which species it might represent is indeterminable from the visible evidence, and it is not mentioned in the title-caption. The branch shown in 43alt (see link below) is smaller and rougher, and may be the same or different from the one shown here.

Crested Myna, Acridotheres cristatellus, is an exotic species often kept as a cage or aviary bird and in parks. Today the species is usually called 八哥鳥, はっかちょう, ハッカチョウ, hakka-chou. Instead Rakusan used かちん鳥, kachin-dori, lit. 'kachin-bird', where kachin is an onomatopoeic sound, 'clink,clack, clap, etc.'. The sexes are alike and what Rakusan shows could be any three birds. However, unlike in many of his more naturalistic compositions, the birds here are depicted in artificially elongated and stylized traditional poses.

Related Designs:


Other designs with the same form of wild camellia:
126-1 126-2 126-3 126-4 126-5 126

Other designs with different species of myna: