Pop-Ups of Architectural Drawings

Chaseki okoshiezu mokuroku [Folding Drawings of the Famous Tea Houses].

Two sets, each of 45 individual highly complex pop-up architectural models, each model secured within a large folding envelope with a manuscript title & manuscript notes regarding each model, written & drawn in black ink. Each set accompanied by a printed list describing each model within the sets, both lists pasted to the inside of the top of each of the two boxes. 90 envelopes (when folded 255 x 170 mm.). The models are made from thick construction paper and preserved in the two original publisher’s boxes. Osaka: [ca. 1930s].

A remarkable publication, complete, of extremely complex models for tea ceremony houses (chashitsu) and their related buildings, including the floor plans of the various rooms along with pop-up flaps of the walls, benches, shelves, boxes, shutters, awnings, ceilings, etc. The flaps all have highly detailed manuscript notes providing measurements, design details, materials, and function. In Japan, paper pop-up models have been used since at least the 16th century as a primary means of communication between carpenters and their patrons, particularly in the construction of tea houses.

The pop-up flaps are attached to floor plans of different sizes and designs. There are notes regarding tea houses designed or favored by famous figures and schools in tea ceremony history. The primary folding flaps consist of exterior and interior walls, ceilings, alcoves, and passage-ways. The flaps contain detailed drawings on both sides depicting the interior decor, windows and their decorations, passage-ways, bathrooms, etc. Attached to the wall flaps are more flaps, which show smaller interior objects including boxes, shelves, display alcoves (tokonoma), benches, etc.

The purpose of these pop-up plans was to allow an experienced builder to visualize and construct an entire building from the plans themselves. “The okoshi-ezu has no real counterpart in Western drawing…Okoshi-ezu are extraordinary in that they are both easy to understand and extremely comprehensive — a combination that is usually mutually exclusive in architectural drawing, where legibility tends to decline as the density of information increases. This quality makes okoshi-ezu drawings extremely helpful in studying the buildings they represent. Indeed, okoshi-ezu provided such a complete description of the design that they were often used as the basis for the common practice of copying teahouses; the dimensional and specification information they included meant they could be used as construction drawings. These drawings could communicate so much with so little because their representational qualities were so similar to the actual architecture they represented — thin walls wrapped around cubic spaces to create highly refined and specific compositions of material, space, and light.”–Andrew Barrie, “Okoshi-ezu: Speculations on thinness,” in Interstices 11 (online resource).

Sakata was a dealer of high-end tea ceremony utensils and art in Osaka. Laid-in are two original leaflet advertisements issued by Sakata.

In fine condition. Some of the outer wrappers are a little foxed, and several of the pop-ups are a little discolored. One envelope has a small dampstain (but the pop-up inside is untouched). Preserved in two original custom-made wooden boxes.

Price: $15,000.00

Item ID: 6773

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