Bijin ryoka shu [or] Ryoka kyoka shu [trans.: A Flowery Mirror of Beautiful Women]. Seiyo KATSURA, artist.
Bijin ryoka shu [or] Ryoka kyoka shu [trans.: A Flowery Mirror of Beautiful Women].
Bijin ryoka shu [or] Ryoka kyoka shu [trans.: A Flowery Mirror of Beautiful Women].
Bijin ryoka shu [or] Ryoka kyoka shu [trans.: A Flowery Mirror of Beautiful Women].
Bijin ryoka shu [or] Ryoka kyoka shu [trans.: A Flowery Mirror of Beautiful Women].

“Seiyo at his Most Ingratiating”–Hillier

Bijin ryoka shu [or] Ryoka kyoka shu [trans.: A Flowery Mirror of Beautiful Women].

Numerous full-page or double-page color-printed woodcut illus. 27 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. wrappers (a bit rubbed), orig. block-printed title label on upper cover (again, a bit rubbed), new stitching. Osaka: Senritei et al., 1831.

First edition of this handsome color-printed woodcut book and a wonderful example of karazuri (blind-printing) which makes fine Japanese illustrated books so pleasing. We find no copy in WorldCat.

“Another artist with greater affinities to Shijo than Ukiyo-e is Katsura Seiyo (1786-1860), but he was a prolific designer of prints for kyoka books…he had an obvious appreciation of book design, and he enhanced many a kyoka that would have been dull without his colourful vignettes…

“[The present work] might be taken to exhibit Seiyo at his most ingratiating, with some of the best of his colour prints for kyoka-bon…the print of Chinese women boating on a lotus pond from this book is outstanding.”–Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, pp. 843-44–(with illus.).

This is truly a “highly designed” book. The first four pages — the Preface — are printed on pale yellow paper with another woodblock printing in white of pine branches to ornament each page. The woodcuts, many of which are double-page, are delicately color printed using four or five colors. Many of these pages exhibit karazuri, the Japanese method of blind-printing which gives a remarkable texture to the pages. We also find frequent uses of bokashi, where a gradated band of color is printed by differential application of a pigment to a relief block. One of the woodcuts has highlights in gold.

Nice copy.

❧ John Carpenter from the Metropolitan Museum webpage (16 August 2018)–“This illustrated collection of kyōka (witty 31-syllable poems) has a clever title that literally means ‘A Collection of Beauties as Chestnut Flowers [ryōka or hishi].’ But ryōka (water chestnut) also is an abbreviated way of referring to a ryōka-kyō, or metal mirror with floral motifs on the reverse side. The publisher of this volume probably created the title that would add a level of literary allusiveness to this compilation of genre scenes of women and poetry. The frontispiece and one of the illustrations in fact show images of metal cosmetic mirrors.”.

Price: $12,500.00

Item ID: 6311

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