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 as part of a larger project which included the related 36 Series
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.
130-5 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 5 in the 130 Cherry theme.
Like all other designs in this series, 130-5 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented. All of the Fan Series prints were originally distributed tipped into recessed wells of presentation sheets with the overall project title, 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, embossed in their lower margins.
The 130 Cherry theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Four of the five fan designs in this theme (including 130-5) and the 36 Series design 130 have seal C which indicates a carving date before the end of the first quarter of 1934.
Despite the early completion of most of its wooden blocks, Rakusan delayed printing and distribution of the prints in what became the 130 Cherry theme until the following year. It was eventually grouped with other spring season themes nearer to the end of the series. Use of seal B on 130-3 suggests it was carved somewhat later than the other designs and closer to the time of publication.
According to the delivery documents for Fan Series installment ten, the woodblock prints of the 130 Cherry theme were printed in March 1935 and distributed March 25, 1935 in installment ten (of twelve). The series as originally announced would have seen this installment published in October 1934, but there had previously been several delays and skipped delivery months. On the installment ten documents Rakusan used 櫻に大瑠璃鳥, sakura ni oo-ruri chou/tori, 'Cherry and Blue-and-White Flycatcher', as the theme title. However, the flycatcher is not found in any of the Fan Series designs in this theme, and this title is really only appropriate as the title of 36 Series design 130 published at the same time. Since the only subject common to all of the designs in this theme is the cherry, a more general theme title, 130 Cherry, is substituted here.
A minimum of three different kinds of flowering cherry are shown in the 130 Cherry theme designs; therefore the theme subject cannot be described as any particular variety of cherry.
The flowers in 130, 130-1, and 130-3 are double; and in 130-2, 130-4, and 130-5 they are single. 130-5 is the only weeping form.
At least some of the cherry designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of designs 3, 88, 87, and 67 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).
The composition of 130-5 includes three pendant blooming branches of weeping cherry in front of a waning gibbous moon. Most of the flowers are still in bud, but a few have opened. Both the cherry blossoms and the waning moon, 下弦の月, kagen no tsuki
(or 死魄, shihaku
) are culturally symbolic of impermanence and the evanescence of life, and the combination is commonly used in traditional literature. 130-5 is the only known Rakusan artwork which includes the moon or indeed any other heavenly body.
The woodblock print of 130-5 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 cherry is rendered as a detailed line drawing which looks equally well as ishizuri or reversed, and the moon consists only of simple arcs:
130-5 as originally drawn (reconstruction)
In Japanese the general name for any cherry is 桜 (or older style 櫻), さくら, サクラ, sakura
Rakusan described the cherry variety in 67 as しだれ桜 , shidare-zakura
, lit. 'weeping (pendulous) cherry' which today is popularly applied to any cherry with a weeping habit.
As with many old cherry cultivars, the species identifications of Japanese Weeping Cherry, 枝垂桜, (枝)垂れ桜, しだれ桜, しだれざくら, シダレザクラ, shidare-zakura
, is open to dispute.
The variety originated in Japan and is unknown in the wild.
In the West weeping cherry is often described as Prunus x subhirtella
(a hybrid between P. incisa
and P. spachiana
Because that cross includes non-weeping cultivars, the varietal name pendula
is frequently added to describe the selected weeping forms.
Although Rakusan illustrates a pink semi-double form, the blossoms of weeping cherry cultivars vary from white to pink and single to fully double.
Sometimes weeping cherry is considered a form of Prunus spachiana