Signature and Seal Markings:
|Edition I (only edition):
||+ 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 one hundred eighty 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.
116-1 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 1 in the 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry theme.
Like all other designs in this series, 116-1 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.
The 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry
theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print.
The Fan Series
designs of the 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry
theme were printed during September 1934 and were distributed September 15, 1934 as installment six (of twelve). On the delivery documents Rakusan used the theme subject title 山茶花に梅もどき, sazanka ni umemodoki
, 'sasanqua camellia and winterberry', which is actually the title of 36 Series
design 116 published at the same time.
The 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry theme was prepared in two stages. Three of the five fan prints (including 116-1) have seal C, indicating that all of their wooden blocks were carved during the first half of 1934.
Rakusan deliberately delayed printing for several months after those blocks were ready. The other two fan prints and the 36 Series design have seal B and were carved somewhat later and closer to the time of publication.
The 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry theme is the second of several compound-subject themes.
Both thematic elements of a compound theme always appear in its 36 Series design.
However, the individual Fan Series designs may have both, or one, or the other.
Here only sasanqua camellia is in 116-1, 116-3, and 116-4; only winterberry in 116-2 and 116-5; and both sasanqua camellia and winterberry appear together only in the 36 Series design 116, the only design uniting the two groups.
Some of the sasanqua camellia and winterberry designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s for sasanqua camellia design 5 and winterberry design 24 of the earlier 100 Series.
The composition of 116-1 includes a forked camellia branch with an open flower and three buds. The top surface of the branches has a thick coating of ice and snow. Perched on the lower fork of the branch is a sparrow. The camellia is rendered in a loose, painterly style as relatively simple line drawings which look equally well as ishizuri or in the original. The thin branches with ice and snow were painstakingly carved so that the correct light and dark patterns appear only in the original sketch. In the ishizuri version they are exactly opposite, and a bit confusing. On the other hand the patterns of the sparrow are correct only in the ishizuri version, indicating it was differently carved. This conflict of techniques suggests that 116-1 is an early, less-accomplished attempt at mastering the ishizuri technique.
The woodblock print of 116-1 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. Note that the image of the bird was adjusted during the carving process:
116-1 as originally drawn (reconstruction)
Sasanqua Camellia, Camellia sasanqua
, is a winter-blooming species of camellia native to Japan which has been extensively selected and hybridized for color and for flower form.
In Japanese it does not use the regular name for other camellias but has its own name, 山茶花, さざんか, サザンカ, sazanka
This Japanese name is the source of both the Latin species name and the English name, sasanqua
The form Rakusan selected for 5, 116, 116-1, 116-3, and 116-4, is a medium-sized, open flower of pink-blushed white, a type which is often informally called 'Apple Blossom' in English.
Although he had access to many varieties of camellias, Rakusan depicted only three different kinds in his woodblock prints, and examples each appear in the 36 Series.
The other two kinds of Rakusan camellias are at numbers 126 and 129, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.
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, 雀, suzume, remains a very common general name for any sort of small sparrow or sparrow-like bird in modern Japanese.