Kyoka sansuishu [Collection of Crazy/Witty Poetry on Landscapes]. artist HIROSHIGE ANDO, or UTAGAWA.
Kyoka sansuishu [Collection of Crazy/Witty Poetry on Landscapes].
Kyoka sansuishu [Collection of Crazy/Witty Poetry on Landscapes].
Kyoka sansuishu [Collection of Crazy/Witty Poetry on Landscapes].
Kyoka sansuishu [Collection of Crazy/Witty Poetry on Landscapes].

Kyoka sansuishu [Collection of Crazy/Witty Poetry on Landscapes].

Four double-page color woodcut illus. 12 leaves. 8vo, orig. decorated wrappers, stitched as issued. [Japan: 1830-53].

First edition, and very rare, with no copy in WorldCat, of this ephemeral and beautifully illustrated example of kyoka poetry by Hiroshige. He was frequently engaged to illustrate kyoka collections and, as a poet of considerable talent, often made contributions to the text. The two selectors of the poems printed here are Shiseido Taijin and Daihoshiko Taijin.

The decorated wrappers incorporate plum flower motifs with the character of water in the center of each. The numerous poems are all concerned with mountain or water landscapes (sansui). The four finely color-printed double-page woodcuts by Hiroshige depict landscapes in the four seasons. All depict complex scenes combining different combinations of mountains, lakes, and streams. Bokashi, the delicate gradation or shading of the density of one color, is beautifully employed in all four images, and Hiroshige uses blue and pink to great effect. Some of the images use both “bone” and “boneless” lines to vary the shapes and impact of the mountains.

“In general, the chonin, the bourgeois citizens of Edo and Osaka particularly, enjoyed literature that was light and entertaining: stories of love and intrigue, often with fantastic or occult elements; and verse that was very much on the surface, relying greatly for its appeal on word-plays that the nature of the language, with it innumerable homophones, encourages…from the beginning of the Temmei period in 1781, kyoka verse became a major leisure activity of the chonin and of some samurai…

“The Temmei vogue for kyoka — literally, ‘crazy verses’ — was a revival. The form had originated as early as the fourteenth century and had had its first flowering in the seventeenth…But the revival in the Temmei period led to a phenomenon, a positive craze for amateur verse-writing, on a scale more widespread than is known in any other nation at any time [and continued for many decades]. It became a cult, with rival factions, or societies, each headed by high priests who were teachers and adjudicators of frequent competitions.”–Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 372. Many of the leading Ukiyo-e artists were involved with kyoka from the very beginning, including Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Hokkei, and Hiroshige.

Fine copy, preserved in a chitsu. Small wormhole in lower blank margin.

Price: $3,950.00

Item ID: 7069

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