Original antique Japanese color
woodblock prints Utamaro (1753-1806). Shunga (Erotic print). Date: c.1803.
Half-size oban yoko-e size (O-tanzakuban yoko-e) : 6 1/2" x 14"
inches. Very good impression, color and condition.
A slight vertical album fold, minor creases, marks and flaws otherwise a very
well preserved print !
Full size, no repairs and wonderful use of gauffrage !
The young boy depicted here is a so called temple page ('chigo' or 'terakosho'
), they were available to monks, who were regarded without censure as among
the most avid adherents to the so called ' Way of the youth'.
As often with male-male depictions in Japanese shunga, one of the depicted
persons - taking the active role - is an older man ('nenjo' ).The receptive
partner ('wakashu' ) was invariably a pre-pubescent or pubescent boy or a
young man who has not yet shaved off his forelock, a sign in Japanese society
that he had not yet come of age. Male-male relationships, within the samurai
class and in monasteries between monks and their young acolytes, were a common
phenomenon in Tokugawa Japan, as was prostitution among young kabuki actors of
The size of this very rare print is quite uncommon: a half-size horizontal
oban design would have been carved on one half of a woodblock, with another
design carved from the other. This design is most likely from a set of twelve
prints issued late in Utamaro's life ! Look for the inro on the floor behind
the young man's head !
Another design from this series is
housed in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam !