A flock of cranes

japanese 2009 00770aDetail of A Flock of Cranes

The Graphic Arts Collection has a small collection of hashira-e or pillar prints. Their condition is less than perfect but this is not unusual. Printed on long, narrow sheets to fit on the pillars in someone’s home, these prints were exposed to all types of environmental damage, including excess light and dust and humidity. It’s a wonder any of them survive.

Several of our prints are by Katsukawa Shunchō, a Japanese printmaker active from 1783 to 1821 but my favorite is by Isoda Koryūsai, who worked both as a painter and printmaker around 1765 to 1785. His “Flock of Cranes” draws on the mythology of the crane as a symbol of long life and fidelity. Oberlin posted a nice compendium of mythologies of the crane: http://www.oberlin.edu/amam/asia/crane/documents/craneinfo.pdf

Jacob Pins, The Japanese pillar print: Hashira-e; foreword by Roger Keyes (London: Sawers, 1982). Marquand Library (SA) Oversize NE1310 .P61q

japanese 2009 00770      japanese 2009 00772a         japanese 2009 00771

japanese 2009 00772Details of Gathering Shellfish at Low Tide

Isoda Koryusai, A Flock of Cranes, no date. Color woodblock print. GA 2009.00770
Katsukawa Shuncho, Gathering Shellfish at Low Tide, no date. Color woodblock print. GA 2009.00772
Katsukawa Shuncho, Courtesan emerging from a mosquito net, no date. Color woodblock print. GA 2009.00771