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88 of 10,413

Katsushika Hokusai

(Japanese, 1760–1849)

The Waterless Shell (Minase-gai), from the series: The Poetry-Shell Matching Game of the Genroku Era

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Object Details

Artist

Katsushika Hokusai

Date

commissioned for New Year 1821

Medium

Color woodblock print

Dimensions

7 5/8 × 6 15/16 inches (19.4 × 17.6 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Joanna Haab Schoff, Class of 1955

Object
Number

2011.017.017

Surimono, privately published woodblock prints, comprise one of the most elegant and literary genres(…)

Surimono, privately published woodblock prints, comprise one of the most elegant and literary genres of Japanese printmaking traditions. Commissioned by poetry clubs, typically as gifts in celebration of the Lunar New Year, surimono represent a unique collaboration of poets, artists, calligraphers, and printing houses. Clever integrations of text and image were combined with the most advanced printing techniques to produce deluxe presentation sheets for a sophisticated and highly literate audience.Hokusai, the master print designer best known for his popular prints in the ukiyo-e tradition, was also commissioned to create surimono. This print comes from one of his most famous series. Minase literally means “dry shallows,” and derives from Minashi (“waterless” or “dry”), the alternate name for this shell. The idea of waterlessness provides the suggestion for the dry cage containing rocks and frogs. Yamabuki ni By the mountain roses Koe aru mizu no The voice of water Tamagashiwa Tumbling out Korogashi idete Over jeweled boulders Kawazu naku nari Frogs croaking —Tsuru no Hinako Mimachi kara Waiting for the hour of the snake Nagusami gatera To while the time away Sebumi shite I step in the waters of Kasumi no umi ni The misty sea and Hitohi asoban Play the day away —Yomo Utagaki Magao(“Highlights from the Collection: 45 Years at the Johnson,” curated by Stephanie Wiles and presented at the Johnson Museum January 27–July 22, 2018)

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