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Kyōsai hyakuzu, Watōnai, Master of Papier Mache


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Watōnai, Master of Papier Mache

from the series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

by Kawanabe Kyōsai, c. 1863-1866

Study of Gaslight and Silhouetted Figures

IHL Cat. #1503

About this Print and the Series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

The Print
In this print Kyōsai portrays the fierce warrior Watōnai (Coxinga) as a maker of paper mache daruma dolls. Watōnai is staring at paper mache tigers (tora), alluding to the play The Battles of Coxinga in which Watōnai vanquishes the fierce tiger.

Source: Comic Genius, Kawanabe Kyosai [暁齋の戯画・狂画展  Gyōsai no giga, kyōga ten], Shigeru Oikawa, Timothy Clark: Matthi Forrer, et. al., Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 213.

"This might mean that the Dharma doll made by the master of papier maché was so well done, it came to life.  Here a papier maché tiger is depicted, and it seems to include a sense of the irony that no matter what, a papier maché figure remains a papier maché figure.  We can also see the characters 'wa to nai.' He was the hero of the Kokusenya-Kassen, Battle of Kokusenya and is known as a fierce hero."

Variant Printings
The popularity of these small prints led to numerous printings over the years.  Two color variant states of the print are shown below.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.37015

The Series
Source: Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Oikawa Shigeru, Clark Timothy and Forrer Matthi, Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 206.
This print was issued as part of the series the Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai) which consists of more than 200 pictorializations of proverbs and depictions of famous subjects unrelated to proverbs. The prints were published continuously from 1863 to 1866* by the publisher Wakasaya and the works were later reprinted in album form by the publisher Ōkura Magobei (Ōkuraya) in 1881 and 1886.  The prints in this collection are likely from one of Ōkura Magobei's reprint editions, as they show evidence of having been removed from an album. 

One hundred of the proverbs depicted in Kyōsai hyakuzu were translated into French in 1885 under the title Cent Proverbes Japonais by Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuke.

This print series was very popular, enhancing Kyōsai's reputation and making a large profit for the publishers.

*1863-1866 are the most common publication dates provided for these prints, though the literature cites dates as early as 1862 for the first publication date and reprints of this series are still being made.  The prints were first issued by publisher Wakasaya Yoichi (aka Jakurindō Yoichi) as single-sheet prints, sold in ten print packages in a decorative envelope.  Ōkura Magobei (aka Yorozuya Magobei) re-published the prints in bound book/album form in the 1880s.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description
 Watōnai, Master of Papier Mache
 和藤内 はりこの名人
 Watōnai Hariko no meijin
 Artist Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
 Series Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai)
ju Seisei Kyōsai 応需惺々狂斎 
 Seal of the Artist unread (see above)
 Publication Date unknown (originally c. 1863-1866)
Ōkura Magobei 大倉孫兵衛 - originally issued by Wakasaya Yoichi 若狭屋与市 and then reprinted in book form by Ōkura Magobei (Yorozuya Magobei).
partially unread
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - album backing; soiling, rubbing
 Genre ukiyo-e; giga (comic print)
 Format koban [vertical yotsugiri (quarter ōban)]
 H x W Paper 
 7 1/16 x 4 3/4 in. (17.9 x 12.1 cm)
 H x W Image 6 3/4 x 4 1/2 in. (17.1 x 11.4 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.37015; Ukiyoe Caricatures, University of Vienna 11032-68
 Reference Literature
 Comic Genius, Kawanabe Kyosai [暁齋の戯画・狂画展  Gyōsai no giga, kyōga ten], Shigeru Oikawa, Timothy Clark: Matthi Forrer, et. al., Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 213.