“A Wondrous Pussy, How Nice”
Hana ikada [Flower Raft]; title from the first page of text: Gyokueki chiwa hana ikada [Precious Dew Story of the Flower Raft].
Text by Koshoku Gaishi, a pen name for Hanagasa Bunkyo. 12 double-page & six single-page woodcuts, all color woodblock-printed. 17; 11; 10 folding leaves. Three vols. 8vo, orig. color-printed semi-stiff boards (boards rubbed & a little soiled), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers (titles faded away), new stitching. Edo: .
First edition and rare; WorldCat lists only one copy, in Japan. Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), was “one of the great Ukiyo-e artists of the nineteenth century.”–Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 890. Kuniyoshi also had a substantial output of erotic books.
This is an excellent example of a shunga with hidden names. “Following the new publishing regulations issued as part of the Kyoho reforms in 1722, the names of authors, artists and publishers all but disappeared from erotic books. ‘Hidden names’ (ingo) started to be used instead. Real identities were not completely disguised, however, and the hidden names generally alluded in some way to the person’s real name or to an additional ‘playful name’ (gigo) with which they were associated.”–Timothy Clark et al., eds., Shunga. Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art (British Museum: 2013), p. 274–(claiming, in error, that “the printing technique used for Hana ikada is just normal colour woodblock.”). Kuniyoshi was well known as a cat lover, and in this work, we find hidden names such as “Ichimyokai Hodoyoshi” (“A Wondrous Pussy, How Nice”), “Neko-Yoshi” (“Cats Are Good”), and “Ichimyokai Neko-Yoshi ga” (“Drawn by a Wondrous Pussy, Cats Are Good”).
The color printing throughout is rich, with ample use of saturated colors and metallic pigments including gold and silver.
Fine set, with some thumbing in lower outer corners. Preserved in a chitsu.
Item ID: 8540