[modernly supplied title]


tsuta ni nihonamagaeru

Ivy and Japanese Tree-frog


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

114 Ivy Theme / 114 蔦 (ツタ) 画題

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

[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. 114-1 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 1 in the 114 Ivy theme. Like all other designs in this series, 114-1 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
The 114 Ivy 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 114 Ivy theme were distributed in mid 1934 in installment five (of twelve). The delivery documents for installment five remain to be discovered, but its delivery month was either July or August 1934. The woodblock prints would have been printed earlier in the same month as their distribution. In the preview announcement on the installment four folio, Rakusan used 蔦, tsuta, 'ivy' as the title for this theme, and that is also the name used here.

The individual designs in the 114 Ivy theme were completed in at least two stages. Three of the five fan designs have seal C which indicates a carving date during the first half of 1934. The other two fan designs (including 114-1) and the 36 Series design 114 have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.

At least some of these ivy designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s for design 17 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).

The composition of 114-1 includes a section of of ivy including berries. Sitting on the large leaf at center is a tiny tree-frog. The ivy is rendered as a rather loose and simple line drawing with splashes of shadow, and the berries are shown in silhouette. However, the tree-frog has finer details which make identification possible. All of these techniques work equally well viewed as ishizuri or as the original.

The woodblock print of 114-1 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:

114-1 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
Japanese Ivy (Japanese Creeper, Boston Ivy, Grape Ivy), Parthenocissus tricuspidata, 蔦, つた, ツタ, tsuta, is a familiar Asian native vine now widely planted around the world. Although all of the 114 Ivy theme designs may be this species, some representations are so sketchy that they could equally represent other species of ivy.

Japanese Tree-frog, Hyla japonica, 日本雨蛙, にほんあまがえる, ニホンアマガエル, nihon ama-gaeru, lit. 'Japanese rain-frog', is a very small Japanese endemic species. From the tiny size alone, all of Rakusan's tree frogs are recognizable as this species, and the identification is confirmed by the skin markings as well.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 114 Ivy theme:
114-2 114-3 114-4 114-5 114

Other designs with ivy:
17alt 17 28

Other designs with tree-frogs (or other tiny frogs):
109-2 110-3 111 128-2