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[Japan c.1848, n.p.]. A matching pair, large broadsides,very. good, vegetal colored woodblock prints, hand-printed on hand. made Kawaraban large Washi paper, size ca: 36.5 x 50 cm.,. with title cartouche and adjacent texts. A RARE SET COMPLETE. SUPERB ANATOMICAL WOODCUTS SHOWING THE FUNCTION OF ORGANS MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY IN JAPAN CA. 1848: The general understanding of "medicine" in the daily lives of the common Japanese was exceptionally limited. They truly lived on superstitious beliefs, or some believed in some primitive Chinese-related traditional and ancient medical practices, most of which were anecdotal. Japanese of this period had little factual knowledge, and lacked reliable, "medical" knowledge of how their bodies actually functioned. The name of and workings of various organs were not well understood. * With the appearance of this set of large sized color charts showing the bodily functions and names had a great impact and value on to a society of rather ignorant people. Hitherto these people only had rudimentary concepts on the workings of their own bodies. This print gave graphic insights to the workings and functions in laymen terms. * An unique look at how ingenious Japanese physicians conceived of and applied known native concepts of "medical technology" and expanded on that to give ordinary Japanese a better insight to actual bodily functions. These physicians utilized every-day products to explained and relate the complex functions of the human organism. A graphic look at the workings of human anatomy expanded the horizons of most Japanese. This set of prints accomplished the goals of the physicians achieving superb results. * THE WORKING OF THE ORGANS: Collecting teams of miniature male or female workers, the bodily functions were reduced to common, familiar & daily activities of rural Japanese in terms of farming, metallurgy, grain production. Also the common practice of making of essential oils, all graphically shown in easy terms of contemporary technological images and supported with easy text and vocabulary, to facilitate understanding. Most every one in Japan during this time understood and had observed these methods of production, so it was natural to assume that the body worked along similar lines. Using examples from daily life helped to insure good understanding of the body. * DESCRIPTION OF THE PAIR OF PRINTS: This superb and most rare example consists of the complete set of two color woodcut prints; "INSHOKU YOJYO KAGAMI" [the male print] & "BOJI YOJYO KAGAMI" [the female print]. Each print shows the complete body with the organ functions, and the resulting bi-products. Biological function is enhanced by emotional motives and other characteristics are portrayed in a similar manner. * The pair of prints clearly shows the major differences between the male and female, their emotions, psychological factors influencing bodily functions, beautifully illustrated with much detail. * "INSHOKU YOJYO KAGAMI" [reflections on the male]: This shows an ordinary Edo period Japanese man drinking a cup of hot Sake [wine], with a tray of celebratory food before him on a tray, perhaps it was New Years ? The tray holds a red snapper with ginger. He is seated and as he drinks, all internal organs are identified from the top: lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, the large & small intestines. There is a profusion of descriptive text surrounding the illustration, with red lines to indicate the function of each organ, which is described in much detail. The prints are like a road map to the body and its complex components. * THE MALE ORGANS: * The heart shows GREED; showing people bringing gold to the owner, while he pours over his account book. The lungs are shown as a team of men with giant fans making the exchange of air possible, resulting in breathing. Other workers in the stomach show a team of labors with bamboo poles or yokes on their shoulder with wooden buckets suspended at each end carrying food being moved about, as others shovel and hoe food around. Another worker climbs up a ladder to the heart to dump food there ! The process of cleansing [creation & movement of urine] is shown as a group of men pouring buckets of liquid in a press to filter and extract. As the food goes through the digestion process the last stop is the "Mon" or "gates," controlled by two "gate keepers" who allow the flow and refuse to depart. * BOJI YOJYO KAGAMI: [reflections on the female]: This superb and most RARE example, shows a Japanese Oiran or prostitute at leisure. She has the typical elaborate hair pins and stunning silk Kimono, she also displays another sign of her profession: upper lip in red, lower lip in green. She is sitting beside her black and gold lacquered smoking box, and she is smoking a "Kiseru" pipe. Draped over the handle of the smoking box is a large group of Chirishi [toilet paper] used to wipe up after love-making. The whole print was done like a pictorial map of bodily functions, with a large crew of tiny women workers who labor to make the body perform digestion and all related functions. At the top, as the woman inhales the smoke, there are two tiny women who operate the mechanical bellows [often used in metal & Japanese sword production] by pushing & pulling to 'pump' & fan lung activity. One just rests while the woman is at ease. Another pair of female workers have hand held fans as an auxiliary to lung pumping. The heart is surrounded by flames, indicating this is the source of passion and emotions: greed is displayed by a woman who is the bookkeeper, who counts the money, another is in charge of actual money or gold "Ryo" coins. These two areas are in her breast, and the breasts are shown, the right side shows a mother scolding a child for taunting cats. The process of digestion begins just under this area with a team of women who haul buckets of food. Another pair of female workers tend the "Kama" or rice cooker made of metal held over a fire with another worker who blows through a bamboo tube to force the fire to surge, which in turn "fires" the emotions of the heart. Others female workers haul rice, tea & other things to eat on a small pathway leading towards a stone grain [grist] grinder attended by two other workers who turn the grist mill while the other rakes the grain. Other organs are represented by a woman who fans the hot food to cool it before it proceeds along the digestive path. The results of the grist mill is poured into what appears as circular intestines dividing the results into liquid and solid. The solid is raked into fields [typical use by farmers in Japan], the liquid goes down to be discharged. Adjacent to the uterus are the fallopian tubes, which shows an elder women in a fine Kimono holding fans; one shows a very old woman with a cane being tended by a younger woman. * The internal organs are identified from the top: lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, small & large intestines. There is a profusion of text surrounding and within the illustration, with oval paragraph markers. Each paragraph explains the function of an organ. In the heart, GREED is the subject of the illustrated, as a woman bring Gold down a ladder from above the throat. This was a superb example created for the common woman to understand the complex process with a visual aid, and written in simple Japanese. It is interesting to note, that the female subject of this print is not an ordinary woman, but rather one who was a prostitute, the clear message was that it would have been improper to expose the internal and sex organs of anyone other than a prostitute. * THE EDUCATIONAL USE AND APPLICATION OF THESE MEDICAL PRINTS: The Japanese understanding of their own bodily functions in the mid-19th. century was very limited and basic. This set of prints were used as educational tools by physicians and medical doctors to explain medical problems and causes of illness to the lay public. They were also used by medical teachers to give students a graphic insight to the bodily functions. In essence, these superb examples were created for the common man and woman to understand the complex process put into simple Japanese terms. * VARIANTS: Male There are three variants to the male print: a. The man wears a black and white plaid Kimono over one shoulder with a bottle of Sake near his left hand, with the artist's signature and censor's seal, with gray background. * b. The same similar print of the man but without the Kimono and the bottle of Sake is at his right hand side, with a green background at the bottom one third of the illustration, without the artist's signature or seals. See Nakahara cited below, pp. 144 & 145 i.e. illustrations numbers 114 & 115 for variants a. & b. * VARIANTS: Female: As for the female print there was only one variant. It was later issued in a "cheap edition," without any color, it was issued in "key blocks" or with black outline. This reliable detail was gleaned in a hand-written letter to us from Dr. Richard Lane, a scholar and author of several reference books on Japanese woodcut prints, dated Jan. 30, 1978 [see a scan of this on our web site]. Wherein he wrote to us about these two prints. "...My books are 1/2 started & I've only found "medical" discussion of the "male" print [by a scholar who was unaware of the "female" one--which is rarer]--the [one] I know. There's a discussion of the banning of the latter, somewhere. However, I have dug out my own 1967*** very preliminary study of them and enclose this shows the NON-colored, later ["cheaper"] version of the "female," but the "male" is a similar version to yours. [You can quote this [me] if desired. FOOTNOTE: *** = See Lane's 2 page article on these two prints in ASIA SCENE December 1967, pp.113-114 with illustrations [a scan is on our site]. The "female" print was never signed, nor censor sealed as this print was prohibited as being considered "licentious" by the Shogunate, therefore again as per Dr. Lane's letter cited above, there was in the literature a citation [now lost] concerning the banning of this print. Evidence is clear, a print lacking artist's signature, and without a censor's seal means an unauthorized printing and publication. All prints, books and maps of the period had to have Shogunate censor's approval and seal carved into the woodblocks. Because this print lacks all of that crucial information it means these were never approved by the Shogunate government. They remained unauthorized and "banned" but were printed as the companion to the "male" counterpart. It is worthy to note here, that the first printing of the "male" part was approved by the Shogunate government censors, and therefore also signed by the artist and had the censor's seal. See Nakahara p.114, illustration 114, where these appear. However on the following page 145, illustration number 115 is completely devoid of the artist's signature and the censor's seal. This means that the Shogunate changed its mind after publication and the print was there after "banned" and the "female" print never approved at all. This means the female print was printed in a very small and limited number, and not for sale on the open market but strictly sold covertly. * RARITY: * Per Dr. Lane's letter cited above: "...[the] "female" one --which is rarer..." Gives us a very good insight to this piece of vital information. Dr. Lane had lived in Japan from the early 1950's and had a major collection of Japanese Ehon [illustrated books] and Shunga [erotic prints, books]. He also had a copy of these two prints in his collection, and was in a position to know what "rare" was. His comment that the "female" print was "RARER" was an opinion based on living, writing and collecting Japanese woodblock printed works in Japan for more than 28 years. * In the above letter he even cites a Japanese scholar's unawareness of the existence of the "female" print ! Therefore it is understandable, that indeed the "female" print remains substantially rarer than the male counterpart. Given the fact that the "male" print was approved and published, one can assume that the standard edition of about 200 copies were produced in all. * KAWRABAN: GRAND SIZE OF THE PRINT, PRINTING AND WOODBLOCKS: RARITY OF BROADSIZE [KAWARABAN] PRINTS * It is worthy to note here, that these two prints were "Kawaraban" or double the standard Oban size [ca. 23 x 35 cm.] Therefore these prints were at least twice as costly to make and carve, and used double the paper of standard sized prints. Using a single cherry-wood slab of this large size was expensive and seldom found and even more unusual to use as a single "Kawaraban" or broadside format print. "Kawaraban" was more commonly used in the making of maps, but again many of them were composed of several smaller prints being glued to form a larger size. This single sheet "Kawaraban" print required special large-sized paper and special large blocks. One must remember, that for every color found in each print another block was required. Typical woodblock printing involved a "key block" is done in black outline; next an additional block for every color found in the print. * In this case, this print took at least seven blocks including, covering the "key block," using colors: black, blue green, yellow, red and pink. This is a large number of "Kawaraban" size blocks, other "Kawaraban" never approached this size for a single polychrome print. Most "Kawaraban" were strictly done in "key block" or black ink on white paper. The standard print production of a set of wood blocks was known to be about 200 prints before gaps in between the colors and the "key blocks" began to appear. These 'gaps' were the results of the blocks drying overnight, after the application of water-based inks. As the blocks dried out, they began to warp and check, rendering them useless for any quality reprinting. Therefore the printing of this set of prints must have been done at a very fast pace, without rest time to print the complete multi-color work and all copies before the blocks became useless. The larger the blocks the faster they warp and become useless. One may deduce from all of these factors, that who ever financed this printing was clearly was a person financial means and a great desire to see the work come to fruition. One can also presume that a Japanese physician or Rangaku-sha [Scholar of Dutch learning] was behind this in an effort to teach the public about basic health issues even if contrary to Shogun law. The strong desire to educate the public was a altruistic endeavor and had obvious risks by openly going against the Shogun's policy against licentious print production. * "DO-GOODERS" PRODUCE THIS SET OF PRINTS FOR THE PUBLIC: * Therefore, given the large and extra costs to produce this set of prints, in terms of super-sized blocks and extra large "Kawaraban" hand-made "Washi" paper, in addition to the carving and printing costs, are clear examples of a great desire to bring these prints to the public's eye. It is therefore worthy to contemplate that the actual costs of these prints were partially borne by "do-gooders" in the medical community*** [see footnote below]. In that cast, in our opinion, the "male" part was produced in two printings and variants, in total yielding about 400 prints in all [i.e. 200 per each printing]. The "female" print was done in a single version, yielding about 200 copies in all. The later, "cheap" edition that Dr. Lane has spoken of is not something we have ever seen nor found in any collections throughout the world, and we now question the actual existence of any "key block" editions of either or both prints. The examples he used in his ASIA SCENE article seem to have been the colored versions. Therefore we feel that in all there were no more than about 400 prints of the two "male" editions and no more than 200 of the "female" edition, thus the understandable comment from Dr. Lane comment about the "female" version being the "RARER" of the two prints. * FOOTNOTE: A prime example of a "do-gooder" was Matsukawa Hanzan was a grand innovator who took it upon himself to educate the average Japanese in agriculture, nature, natural science, medicine and a host of other "foreign and Western technological and scientific subjects. Perhaps he or group of his like-minded colleagues collected their assets to produce this set of prints for the general education and benefit to the public good. * YOSHITSUNA'S BURNING DESIRE TO FINISH HIS SERIES OF TWO: * Based on the fact that there was no signature nor Shogunate censor's seal on the "female" print, we must assume that Yoshitsuna had a burning desire to finish his series. He may have been one of those people who had no compunctions about disregarding what he felt was the public's "need to know" about their own sexuality and their own bodily functions. He was obviously willing to risk all by printing the second part of this series about the female body. Anyone in the Shogunate government would know, by looking at the "female" print that it must have been done by the one-in-the-same as the artist who did the "male" version. The profile is the exact; both the "male" and "female" look to their right, both show the same kind of pose, both have the same open structure of the internal organs, both show the actions of the internal organs as staffed by miniature humans: men for the "male" print; women for the "female" print. Both are of the same physical size. "male" ca. 38.5 x 51.5 cm., "female" 37 x 50.5 cm. Both have title cartouche at the upper right corner. Stylistically, they are remarkably similar in composition and nature. These are indeed the works of the same artist, See Nakahara for authorship proof. * CONDITION: * These prints are rare and seldom found in a matching pair on the open market. Each print has been professionally re-backed in Japan, using rice glue and hand-made very thin "Washi" paper to reinforce and give substance to the original tissue-like paper that was very thin and fragile. * The "male" print is exceptionally clean, but has been previously been folded three times and shows some dustiness on some of the fold lines; there is a faint blemish on his left elbow and knee, with an occasional 3-4 small blemishes here and there. The paper is solid and the registry is very good, with clear text and images throughout. There are two or three small pin holes which are covered and solid with the re-backing, all-in-all a very good example of an exceptionally rare print. * The "female" print has been previously folded 3-4 times and shows some dustiness on some of the fold lines; there are two black "collector's seals" chops in the lower right outside margin, with a few small discoloration's here and there. There was some weakness to one or two fold lines plus some old minor worming, the upper & lower left corner areas had some loss, all of which are now stabilized with the re-backing. There is an overall slight dustiness and a bit of rubbing here and there, the print is now stable and sold. * REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY: * After careful perusal of G. Mestler's: A GALAXY OF OLD JAPANESE MEDICAL BOOKS WITH MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ON EARLY MEDICINE IN JAPAN, after careful perusal of this work, one is at a loss to learn that Mestler missed this and stunning work. * L. Roberts: DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE ARTISTS, we are guided by Richard Lane again, in his hand-corrected copy of his ASIA SCENE 1967 article, which he personally sent to me, wherein he has changed the authorship from the published "Utagawa School ca. 1840's to be [Yoshimune]. It must be remembered, that Lane's article was a "work in progress" and therefore subject to final confirmation as to the artist's name. See L. Roberts: DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE ARTISTS, p.204 for info on Yoshimune [1819-1879]. One is hard put to agree with Lane on this point, for in fact, the high quality of the art work would preclude Yoshimune from being capable of doing this set of superb prints when he was just in his early-mid twenties. Therefore the exact author/artist will remain a mystery. However, we can assume he was a sort of medical rebel as he clearly went against the Shogun censors and did publish the set of prints including the female companion work until the authorities either got too close or he was shut down buy them. Utagawa Yoshitsuna [Ittosai] was the name assigned by Sen Nakahara in his: MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF DENTISTRY IN UKIYOE, p.144-145 with brief explanation on p.156. The artist Yoshitsuna is listed in L. Roberts: A DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE ARTISTS, p.204 for details, who flourished 1848-1868 is a more likely the correct candidate. Aka Ittosai his "studio" or painter's name and he was a fine pupil of the famous Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Ittosai was known as a Ukiyo-E printmaker, who had the skill and experience to produce this magnificent set of works. * We have included a scan from an unknown newspaper [?] article, perhaps an announcement for a Smithsonian MUSEUM OF HISTORY & TECHNOLOGY exhibition, no date cited. * P. Huard et al: CHINESE MEDICINE, page 85, it cites this wood engraving as "the physiology of digestion according to Chinese & Japanese theories." He wrongly attributes this to Utagawa Kunisada. * MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY IN JAPAN CA. 1848: An unusual look at how the Japanese conceived of and applied known native "technology" used in the making of daily and common products related to human anatomy. Collecting teams of male or female workers, the bodily functions were reduced to familiar and daily known methods of farming, metallurgy, grain production, essential oils, in easy terms of contemporary technological vocabulary, to facilitate easy understanding by common Japanese. Most every one in Japan during this time understood and had observed these methods of production, so it was natural to assume that the body worked along similar lines. Using examples from daily life helped to insure understanding of the body via these terms. * [GRMEK, M.D. ] et al. LA MEDECINE JAPONAISE. Illustrates the male portion of the pair in his work as plate III. * Richard Lane. Original letter sent to us held on file. * Sen Nakahara: MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF DENTISTRY IN UKIYOE: see p.143 and plate #113, also for the male version, see pp. 144-145, #'s 114 & 115. with brief explanation on p.156. * OBSCURE REFERENCE: Richard Lane.: ASIA SCENE, December 1967, POPULAR ANATOMY AND POPULAR PIONEER SURGEONS. Illustrates the male and female prints. pp.113-114, Lane attributes the artist to be the "Utagawa school ca. 1840's" and he penned in the copy of this article to us the name to be Yoshimune as a guess, but that was incorrect. Yoshimune [1817-1880] could not be the artist because we later acquired a copy of the male version which clearly states the artist's name to be Utagawa Ittosai, but surely of the same Utagawa Kuniyoshi school. Ittosai was a star pupil of Kuniyoshi. pp.113-114, Lane attributes the artist to be the "Utagawa school ca. 1840's" and he penned in the copy of this article to us the name to be Yoshimune as a guess, but that was incorrect. Yoshimune [1817-1880] could not be the artist because we later acquired a copy of the male version which clearly states the artist's name to be Utagawa Ittosai, but surely of the same Utagawa Kuniyoshi school. Ittosai was a star pupil of Kuniyoshi. * An another illustration of the male print companion was found in an obscure & unknown newspaper [?] announcement of a Smithsonian MUSEUM OF HISTORY & TECHNOLOGY exhibition, no date cited. * Pierre Huard et al: CHINESE MEDICINE, page 85, he cites this as "...the physiology of digestion according to Chinese & Japanese theories." He has wrongly attributed this to Utagawa Kunisada. *** In all cases these prints are exceptionally rare & important examples for the male and female anatomical knowledge. Always RARE ! when found. * Color scans can be sent by email Images displayed may not be the actual copy in stock for sale at any given time; if you want to see the exact image of the book or edition in stock, please request this by email and an image will be returned to you by attachment. * * * * BUY WITH .
      [Bookseller: Rare Oriental Book Company, ABAA, ILAB]
Last Found On: 2016-02-03           Check availability:      Biblio    


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