Illustrated by Hiroshige
Kyoka hyakunin isshu [alternative title: Kyoka Momochidori] [trans.: Crazy Verses or Light Verses. A Chorus of Birds].
108 finely color-printed woodcut illus. (mostly two-thirds of a page). 55 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. speckled wrappers (a bit worn & somewhat rubbed, eleven folding leaves with some worming in gutter, extending into images, neatly repaired), orig. title label on upper cover, modern stitching. N.p.: 1857 or 1858.
First edition of this finely illustrated work by Hiroshige. Each page is divided into three sections: the top contains two poems, the central panel has a poem and a poet’s portrait, and the bottom panel is blank.
“Among artists of the popular school who were uncultured, although not actually illiterate, Hiroshige was an exception because of his literary knowledge and tastes. He was a man of facile pen, for in the diaries are apt descriptions and occasional snaps of cynicism, all of them delightful because they are casual and informal. Had he pursued literature with the assiduity that he espoused art, he would undoubtedly have become a writer or poet. Although, as, with any phraseology or puns which are ephemeral, and therefore difficult to translate into English, the following poems from ‘Kyoka Momo-chidori’ will indicate his usual vein:
Putting aside the moon and snow, How delightful it is to live roundly, With a head more round, Than a dumpling round and round!
The verse alludes to the common saying, Hana yori dango, meaning literally ‘A dumpling is better than a flower.’ Of course it treats with both satisfaction and mockery the author’s own shaven head. Utashige was Hiroshige’s name as a humorous poet. He sometimes signed this name to Harimaze-ye (mixed prints of small size) or Sensha-fuda (visiting cards to shrines or temples) or illustrated books of lyrical drama. Also, some of the famous view-prints produced after 1839 bear the name of Utashige.”–Prof. Yone Noguchi, “Life of Hiroshige,” on-line.
Very good copy. Some light dampstaining in lower portion of gutter. The worming does not touch any of the colored portraits.
❧ Brown, Block Printing & Book Illustration in Japan, p. 195. See Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 847.
Item ID: 5216