[modernly supplied title]


asagao ni kamakiri

Morning Glory and Narrow-winged Mantis


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

107 Morning Glory Theme / 107 アサガオ画題

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

[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. 107-1 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 1 in the 107 Morning Glory theme. Like all other designs in this series, 107-1 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
The 107 Morning Glory theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. The Fan Series prints of the 107 Morning Glory theme were distributed in early 1934 in installment three (of twelve). The delivery documents for installment three remain to be discovered, but its delivery month was either March, April, or (most likely) May 1934. The individual woodblock prints would have been printed earlier in the same month as their distribution. In early 1934 when Rakusan did a major rearrangement of his themes, the fan designs of the 107 Morning Glory theme were combined with two other summer subject themes (108 and 109) and released as installment three just before the summer of 1934.

The individual designs in the 107 Morning Glory theme were completed in at least two stages. Four of the five fan designs (including 107-1) have seal C which indicates a carving date during the first half of 1934. However, the remaining fan design and the 36 Series design 107 have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.

At least some of the morning glory designs in this theme were probably adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 27 of the earlier 100 Series.

The composition of 107-1 includes a section of morning glory vine with a spent flower and three buds. Sitting on a leaf at left is a mantis. The flower parts, veining in the leaves, and the mantis are rendered with very finely engraved lines and in considerable detail. The stems and leaf outlines are bolder flowing lines which are much more delicate than a similar technique used in the other fan designs in this theme.

The woodblock print of 107-1 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:

107-1 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
Japanese Morning Glory, Ipomoea (Parbitis) nil, 朝顔, あさがお, アサガオ, asagao, is originally not native to Japan. However, it was imported from China about 1,200 years ago, and it is now important in Japanese culture. Today, the species is pan-tropical, easily naturalizes, and its ultimate origins are difficult to sort out. In Japan morning glories have been extensively hybridized and selected to modify their colors and flower-forms. Rakusan used several different varieties in his designs. Here the bamboo stake support indicates that the morning glory is growing in a garden setting.

Narrow-winged Mantis, Tenodera angustipennis, has many names, of which 蟷螂, 螳螂, 鎌切, かまきり, カマキリ, kamakiri, is perhaps most recognizable.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 107 Morning Glory theme:
107-1 107-3 107-4 107-5 107

Other designs with morning glories:
27alt 27

Other designs with mantis:
57 133 134-1