EASTERN FLOWERS OF ROUGH STORIES FROM THE FLOATING WORLD
The series Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World (Azuma no hana ukiyo kodan) illustrates episodes of stories as paraphrased in the descriptive cartouches by the writer Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894). Robun was the son of a fishmonger who partnered with the artist Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) to set up shop as a literary subcontractor. He wrote comic fiction and supplied texts for ukiyo-e, and became a frequent contributor to woodblock prints. Published jointly by seven different publishers, the series title is printed with furigana indicating that the character that is usually read nishiki (brocade) should be read as hana (flower) and includes a pun of the word 'kodan' which phonetically means 'story-telling,' but the first of the two characters is here substituted by one that means 'rough draft' or 'manuscript,' thus emphasizing Robun's abbreviation of the tales. The subjects depicted are from folklore, kabuki theater, and novels, and the names of the storytellers follow the series title in the red oblong cartouche in the shape of a page-turner. Robun's texts are inscribed on the pages of a folded book. According to the scholar Iwakiri Yuriko, a text by Robun indicated the plan was for fifty designs however, only forty-seven are known to date, with nineteen storytellers recorded. Extant impressions are rare, and unfortunately, the stories behind many of them have become obscured by time.
Duus 1999, pp. 31-32 (re: Robun)
Newland & Uhlenbeck 2011, pp. 89-90
Iwakiri 2012, pp. 60, 286
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site last updated
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