[modernly supplied title]


boke no hana ni suzume

Quince Flowers and Sparrow


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

106 Quince Theme / 106 ボケ画題

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

[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. 106-1 indicates that this is a Fan Series design with fan shape 1 in the 106 Quince theme. Like all other designs in this series, 106-1 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

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 106 Quince theme. The 36 Series designs for all six were also completed and carved within that same short period. The 106 Quince theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print.

At least some of the quince designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 8 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).

The Fan Series woodblock prints of the 106 Quince 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.

The composition of 106-1 shows the ends of three quince branches. The technique is a combination of simple line drawings for the buds, thorns, and stems; with additional shading on the leaves. Resting on the middle of the top branch is a fledgling sparrow rendered as a detailed, internally shaded, line drawing. The young sparrow has its head thrown back and his mouth open as though begging for food from an unseen adult bird.

The woodblock print of 106-1 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:

106-1 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
The three species of flowering quince are collectively known in Japanese as 木瓜, ぼけ, ボケ, boke, and in English informally as "Japanese Quince". Today the Japanese name is also used particularly for one of the most common garden varieties, Chaenomeles speciosa var. cf. lagenaria, a selection of an originally Chinese and Korean species early imported into Japan. There is also a shorter-growing native species, Chaenomeles japonica. These quinces have been bred into many forms for flower and fruit production and are often used in bonsai. Many varieties of quince have long, prominent thorns.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, is today written in Japanese ornithological texts as スズメ, suzume, where it refers only to this species. However, popular usage, 雀, suzume, remains a very common general name for any sort of small sparrow or sparrow-like bird in modern Japanese.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 106 Quince theme:
106-2 106-3 106-4 106-5 106

Other designs with quince:
8 105-1 (?)

Other designs with sparrows:
3 50
110-5 113-3 116-1 122-1 133-2