Shunga - Shunga is a Japanese term for erotic pictures. Some scholars believe that the first shunga were inspired by Chinese medical manuals. Shunga prints grew in popularity in the early 18th century and the production of shunga peaked in the golden age of the print period in the late 19th century. Many ukiyo-e artists did shunga in addition to their normal specialties. The works sold well and, often at higher prices than the normal genre. So, artists had an incentive to delve into the realm of shunga. Often of very high quality and with great sensitivity to the subject, the best artists produced shunga of remarkable beauty. Shunga were rarely signed as collectors in the field know. Some of the noted artists in the field were Moronobu, Hokusai, Shigenobu and the great Utamaro.
Comments - A fine Meiji woodblock reprint set of designs from Kiyonaga’s Sodo no maki (Handscroll for the Sleeve), this single scroll features ten woodblock prints from Kiyonaga’s masterwork shunga scroll series. The prints are joined end to end in a single squat scroll that is intended to be stashed away in the flowing kimono sleeve of a young female lover for a couple to view in an intimate setting. The single handscroll presentation is exactly as Kiyonaga’s original.
The hashira-e or "pillar print" format is highly unusual for shunga designs. Following the 18th century publication of Kiyonaga's shunga masterwork, a few enterprising artists produced their own interpretations. The format forced the artist to arrange the couples along the long narrow field of the space and successfully designing compelling scenes was a testament to the artist's creativity.
Original complete sets of Kiyonaga's Sodo no maki are exceedingly rare and almost never come on the market. We know of one set sold in Japan in the last five years in the $250,000 range. Our Meiji reprint set likely dates to the turn of the 20th century and is a nice opportunity to collect a rare Sodo no maki set.
Artist - After Kiyonaga
Size - Each scroll is 2 3/4" x 94", Images are 2 1/2" x 16" each
Condition - With excellent color and detail. Some minor soiling. Faint toning at edges. Please see photos for details.