[modernly supplied title]


kankiku ni seguro-sekirei to kusa

Winter Chrysanthemum and Japanese Wagtail with Grass


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

118 Winter Chrysanthemum and Narcissus Theme
118 寒菊に水仙(カンキクにスイセン) 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 at least 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. In themes which contain duplicated fan shapes, one has been arbitrarily designated A and the other B. 118-3 indicates that this is a Fan Series design with fan shape 3 in the 118 Winter Chrysanthemum and Narcissus theme. Like all other designs in this series, 118-3 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
Apparently, Rakusan had initially intended to have a separate chrysanthemum theme. In the delivery documentation for Fan Series installment four, Rakusan had previewed the contents of the following installment. Theme 113 was originally announced to be 菊, kiku, 'chrysanthemum', but at the last minute Rakusan substituted another theme as 113 in installment five. Chrysanthemum designs eventually appeared in this series only as part of a compound theme at 118 in installment six.

The resultant 118 Winter Chrysanthemum and Narcissus 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 118 Winter Chrysanthemum and Narcissus 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 寒菊に水仙, kankiku ni suisen, 'winter chrysanthemum and narcissus', which is actually the original title of 36 Series design 118 published at the same time.

All of the designs in this theme (including the 36 Series design 118) have seal C which indicates they were carved during the first half of 1934.

Since the 118 Winter Chrysanthemum and Narcissus theme has a compound subject, both thematic elements appear in its 36 Series design 118. However, the individual Fan Series designs may have both, or one, or the other. Here only narcissus are in 118-1, 118-2, and 118-4; only chrysanthemum (with grass and a wagtail) in 118-3; and both narcissus and chrysanthemum in 118-5 and 118. (The grass and the wagtail in 118-3 are the sole non-thematic embellishments in this theme.)

At least some of the chrysanthemum designs may have been adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 38 in the earlier 100 Series. (See links below.) All of the fan designs in this theme show the botanical elements as line drawings.

The woodblock print of 118-3 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. The composition places chrysanthemums with flowers and buds on top of four curling, grass leaves, and all of the botanicals are hanging from the top of the frame. Below a wagtail with cocked head is looking up at the plants. Unlike the line-drawn botanicals, the bird is shown in true negative color pattern:

118-3 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
Winter Chrysanthemum (Chinese Aster), Chrysanthemum indicum, 寒菊, かんぎく, カンキク, kan-kiku, lit. 'winter chysanthemum', is an old, cold-hardy, variety. The general name used for all chrysanthemums is 菊, きく, キク, kiku. Today, most garden chrysanthemums are considered forms of Chrysanthemum x morifolium, (C. x grandiflorum), which is derived from C. indicum and related species.

The general name for any kind of grass is 草, くさ, kusa. It is probably not possible to identify the species of grass with any great confidence.

Japanese Wagtail, Motacilla grandis, 背黒鶺鴒, せぐろせきれい, セグロセキレイ, seguro-sekirei, (lit. black-backed wagtail) is a common and distinctive Japanese bird.

The general name for any kind of grass is 草, くさ, kusa. It is probably not possible to identify the species of grass with any great confidence.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 118 Winter Chrysanthemum and Narcissus theme:
118-1 118-2 118-4 118-5 118

Other designs with different varieties of chrysanthemums:
38alt 38

Other designs with wagtails:
86 87 125-2 133