[modernly supplied title]


sasayuri ni sugi to kusa

Bamboo Lily with Red Cedar and Grass


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

104 Lily Theme / 104 ユリ画題

Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I (only edition): 篁子生 Kou-shi-sei + Seal A

The signature 楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei, which is found on most later woodblock prints, first occurred on a fan design in this print 104-1. Although this is its first occurrance in this series, the signature was previously published on the 36 Series designs 102 and 103, and also is found on 104.

[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. In themes which contain duplicated fan shapes, one has been arbitrarily designated A and the other B. 104-1 indicates that this is a Fan Series design with fan shape 1 in the 104 Lily theme. Like all other designs in this series, 104-1 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1950) 50.323 [not illustrated online].

Theme History:
Rakusan began creating the Fan Series with a mixed set of designs whose signatures and seals suggest they were carved during the last half of 1933. Aside from a scattering of designs eventually used for later themes, the majority of these early designs were assembled into the first six themes of the series, including the 104 Lily theme. The 36 Series designs for all six were also completed and carved within that same short period. The 104 Lily theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Rakusan included at least two different kinds of lily in the 104 Lily theme designs, and clearly the defining subject is just 'lily' rather than any particular species.

The Fan Series woodblock prints of the 104 Lily theme were distributed in early 1934 in installment two (of twelve). The delivery documents for installment two remain to be discovered, but its delivery month was either February, March, or April 1934, and the woodblock prints would have been printed during the same month as the publication.

At least some of the lily designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 69 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).

The composition of 104-1 includes a single lily stem with a fully opened flower and a couple of leaves. Entering from upper left are a few sprigs of red cedar and three leaves of an unidentified grass. The open flower most of the other elements are shown silhouetted, but the flower has internal lines - essentially a line drawing with the solid background darkened out. Some of the leaves are shown as simple lines on that background. This design is not a true negative since the flower in life is a very pale color. This design is one of several early designs where Rakusan struggled with his ishizuri techniques.

The woodblock print of 104-1 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:

104-1 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
Bamboo Lily, Lilium japonicum, 笹百合, ささゆり, ササユリ, sasa-yuri, lit. 'dwarf-bamboo lily', is the native species illustrated in 104-1 (and also in 104-3, 104-5, 104, and 69).
(The other two lily designs, 104-2 and 104-4, are native Tiger Lily, Lilium lancifolium, 鬼百合, おにゆり, オニユリ, oni-yuri, lit. 'demon-lily'.)
[In 69 Rakusan apparently accidentally uses the name of a different native species in the title-caption, Goldband Lily, Lilium auratum, 山百合, やまゆり, ヤマユリ, yama-yuri, lit. 'mountain lily'. There are currently no identifiable examples of Goldband Lily among Rakusan's artworks.]

Japanese Red Cedar (or Peacock Pine), Cryptomeria japonica, sugi, is a native Japanese tree which is widely used for timber and for landscape plantings.

The common name for grass is 草, くさ, kusa. It is probably not possible to identify the species of grass with any great confidence. (Note that the same grass is used in a similar way in the composition of 104.)

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 104 Lily theme:
104-2 104-3 104-4 104-5 104

Other designs with lilies:

Other designs with red cedar:
42 99