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JAPANESE WOOD ENGRAVINGS

or praying-book, from the folding of the leaves like hands in supplication, is exemplified in England by the long pictures of the Lord Mayor’s Show that are still hawked in the streets on the day of the procession. A typical specimen of the Orihon panoramas, published in 1689, representing Itsukushima and its neighbourhood, may be seen in the British Museum; with two other interesting works of the period, the Kwaraku Saiken dzu, by a pupil of the Hishigawa school, a forerunner of the topographical handbooks of a century later, containing views of the neighbourhood of Kyoto, and the Tokiwa gi (1700), a series of patterns for stamped and brocaded robes for women, perhaps the first of the many engraved collections of industrial designs published specially for the use of the artisan.

The popular school was served materially during the latter part of the seventeenth century by three painters who did not seek the aid of the engraver for the diffusion of their works. These were Honnami Kōrin (1660–1716), a great lacquer-painter and a bold and original decorative designer, who left a powerful impression upon the industrial art of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; Hanabusa Itchō (1651–1724), a remarkable inventive genius with a dangerously keen sense of humour that secured him some years of exile; and Miyagawa Chōshun, an associate of Hishigawa Moronobu. The drawings of Kōrin were collected, and woodcut copies were published in album form in the present century by his famous follower, Hōitsu, but only two or three of his works were engraved during his lifetime (Fig. 8). Those of Itchō were reproduced under the direction of his followers in the second half of the eighteenth century (Fig. 9); but the memory of Chōshun, whose pictures are well worthy of preservation, failed to receive the same honour.

The existing examples of the Hishigawa period are not numerous, but they are very precious to the student of Japanese woodcuts because they foreshadow in almost every direction the remarkable set of works that were to come in later times, works that will be of constantly growing interest and value to the Japanese littérateur who in future years will have to recall to his countrymen the common phases of the picturesque existence which is now so rapidly drawing to a close.