A long wooden board (193 x 760 x 15 mm.), finely carved with text on both sides, employed in the printing of a ukiyo-zoshi erotic popular novel entitled Yushoku hikaebashira [Tale of Playful Wit & Flirtation]. WOODBLOCK.
A long wooden board (193 x 760 x 15 mm.), finely carved with text on both sides, employed in the printing of a ukiyo-zoshi erotic popular novel entitled Yushoku hikaebashira [Tale of Playful Wit & Flirtation].

A long wooden board (193 x 760 x 15 mm.), finely carved with text on both sides, employed in the printing of a ukiyo-zoshi erotic popular novel entitled Yushoku hikaebashira [Tale of Playful Wit & Flirtation].

N.p.: [ca. 1702-3].

A large and early woodblock from a three-volume popular novel written in kana-based vernacular. This genre stood in contrast to kanbun works, which were composed in classical Chinese and Japanese and intended for the intelligentsia. The Union Catalogue of Japanese Literature lists two editions of this novel, one published in 1702, the other a year later. NIJL records only one copy of each edition. We are unable to determine the edition for which our woodblock was used.

The present woodblock bears the text for leaves 2-3 and 4-5 (eight pages total) in volume three of this anonymously written novel. Between the two pairs of text blocks, the middle column, known as the hashira (pillar), provides the book’s abbreviated title and the foliation. These pages of text describe the pleasure quarters in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo, as well as courtesans.

In overall nice condition, a rare early woodblock from a popular erotic novel, which was apparently read to death. There is some minor worming and wear to one edge of the board, but it is sturdy.

❧ See D. Chibbett, The History of Japanese Printing and Book Illustration (1977), p. 236, for an explanation of the ukiyo-zoshi genre and its significance.

Price: $2,750.00

Item ID: 7088

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