The Kuchi-e Tradition - Kuchi-e prints are woodblock frontispiece illustrations used in the publication of Japanese novels and magazines around the turn of the 20th century. Most kuchi-e prints were illustrations of bijin and continued the tradition of idealized beauties in Japanese art. The subjects, however, have a decidedly Meiji era feel about them and reflect the artistic movement towards more western design. Kuchi-e prints typically have one or two folds because of their use.
Much interest has been generated in the subject since the publication in 2000 of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture." Kuchi-e prints have become highly sought after and collected by the serious collector.
Fresh New Year's Water Kuchi-e Print, 1907 - Handsome kuchi-e scene of a young woman drawing fresh water for the New Year at a well. She pours the water into a new wooden bucket decorated with pine and straw for the holiday, symbolizing the purity of the water. As part of the holiday celebration, the water would be offered at a home Shinto shrine, then used for ritual cleansing. A few birds fly through the sky and buds cover the plum tree at left. A charming design for the novel "Wakamizu" (Fresh New Year's Water). This image appears on page 142 in Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture."
Artist - Takeuchi Keishu (1861 - 1942)
Image Size - 11 1/2" x 8" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Horizontal folds. Slight toning, a few small spots and creases at edges. Please see photos for details.
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