[modernly supplied title]


kaki ni mejiro

Persimmons and White-eye


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

110 Persimmon Theme / 110 柿 (カキ) 画題

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

This is the first documented use of seal Q.

[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. 110-1 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 1 in the 110 Persimmon theme. Like all other designs in this series, 110-1 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
The 110 Persimmon theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. The Fan Series designs in the 110 Persimmon theme were produced as woodblock prints in June 1934 and distributed June 25, 1934 in installment four (of twelve). On the installment delivery documents Rakusan used the theme subject title, 柿, kaki, 'persimmon'.

The signature and seal markings and inconsistencies in style suggest that the 110 Persimmon designs were actually created over an extended period encompassing late 1933 into the middle of 1934. This theme is unusual in that it includes designs with four different seals which were produced in at least three distinct carving periods.

110-1 is the first known use of minor seal Q, but currently with so few examples of that seal, it is difficult to determine to which major seal use period it properly belongs. However, the inconsistencies of style (see below) suggest that 110-1 must be a relatively early design - perhaps assignable to the seal A period during the last half of 1933.

The pairing of the persimmon and the white-eye is a traditional one in Japanese art. Rakusan used the combination both in 110-1, as well as in the later 36 Series design 110. At least some later designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of the earlier 100 Series, persimmons from 19 and white-eyes from 67 (see below).

The composition of 110-1 is an attractive arrangement including two persimmon branches with a fruit and a few leaves. A white-eye is sitting on one of the branches. However, rendition of the original design created a number of inconsistencies which suggest the design was carved very early while Rakusan was still sorting out the problems of ishizuri negative printing. One early technique is the double outlining of parts of the leaves (which was also used in 110-3, the other early design in this theme). More seriously, as printed parts of the bird are in their natural tones: legs and feet, bill, eye, and white eye-ring. However, if Rakusan had continued in that same unreversed style, the head and back would instead have been dark, and the neck and belly light. Unfortunately, the resultant admixture of technique makes this very familiar kind of bird look peculiar in either the ishizuri or the presumed original version.

The woodblock print of 110-1 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:

110-1 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
(Japanese) Persimmon, Diospyros kaki, 柿, かき, カキ, kaki, is a familiar fruit tree now widely planted around the world. Despite the name, the tree is native to China, but it has been bred into several popular commercial varieties in Japan where it was an early introduction. The persimmon fruit is very astringent and is not eaten until it is overripe and sweet.

Japanese White-eye, Zosterops japonicus, 繡眼児, 眼白, now usually 目白, めじろ, メジロ, mejiro, lit. 'white eye', is a familiar native species. The little birds are fond of overripe and fermenting fruit. Sometimes they become intoxicated and are easily caught to be kept as pets. Rakusan was fond of portraying these active little birds, and they appear in several of his designs.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 110 Persimmon theme:
110-2 110-3 110-4 110-5 110

Other designs with persimmons:
19alt 19

Other designs with white-eyes:
67 110 116-2 129-4