Shiko Munakata, (1903-1975)
Rurisho hanga kan (Wood Painting, Roaming Abstract)
(Yacho Domo no saku)
a collection of woodblock prints inspired by the poetry of Yoshii Isamu (1886-1960), published by the artist in collaboration with Ryuseikaku; 66 pages with 32 photolithographs of woodblock prints, in original cardboard storage box with paper label with title, Ryuri-sho, Itaga-kan, blue paper hardcover binding with gilt version of the figural print, Totarari no saku (the beat of the tsuzumi drum) on the front and a design of overlapping fruit on the back titled, Seiryukaku, dated Showa 29 (1954), one of the first 100 printed
21.9 by 16.2 cm
This volume inscribed and embellished by the artist (ca. 1954) on the inside cover with painting of one of his favorite subjects, Nyonin Kannon (Avalokitesvara Kwannon Bosatsu in a female form) within a roundel surrounded by characters from a poem:
kumo reitou ni ate kan butetsu
suiryu kannka tabousei
the cloud calmly covers the top of the mountain
the water flow mountain stream restlessly
The poem was written by Priest Daigu (some source say Priest Kido) of 10th century. It simply describes the beauty of a mountainview. However the poem is traditionally interpreted as implying that our human thoughts and endeavors are meaningless in the face of the greatness of nature itself. This poem seemed to have particular meaning for Munakata as incorporated it into later print compositions.
Postscript by Yoshii Isamu
I had published a poem book called Ryurisho in 21st year of Showa (1946), December. Recently Munakata asked that he wished to create the series of wood blocks based on my poems. Instantly I recalled several poems in the book.
The poems here were written during 20th year of Showa (1945), February to October in Yao of Etchu district, where I evacuated to from the air raid. I assumed he would deeply understand the sorrow of my poems, as he also temporarily stayed in Fukumitsu of Etchu district.
Ryuri-sho is originally consisted of four chapters. I had carefully selected the poems from them for this book. I specially added several my favorite poems just for this book. I am fortunate to have this talented man to work on this project. The series of prints by Munakata are great treat to this old man.
Postscript by Munakata Shiko
In spite of my passion towards poems, I have never been successful on writing one. I often recite my favorite poems while I work. I especially love this poem by Master Yoshii.
kimi ni chikau
Asono kemuri no taeru tomo
Manyo-shu no uta hokorobi tomo
I pledge to you
though Mt. Aso* discontinues smoking
though the poems from Manyo-shu** become worthless
*Mt. Aso is known for its active volcano.
**Manyo-shu is regarded as the oldest and most respected books of poems created in 8th century.
I often recite this poem. I started to collect Master Yoshii's books and enjoyed every single poem. One day I encountered this poem at Fukumitsu, Toyama-Pref.
byobu ni wa Shiko hanga no shoten ite
kami koku ie no robi ha natsukashi
I cherish the house with screen of Shiko's print of Bodhisattva
and the flame in fireplace
I was astonished at this poem. The beauty of poems can bring me the joy that I would never be able to create. It simply makes me smile and happy. My clumsy works would slightly improved by understanding the beauty of Master Yoshii's poems. I am very grateful to him.
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site last updated
December 2, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
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