akuzuri-e 悪摺絵
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
A woodblock print designed and privately published to expose a secret indiscretion, then distributed to the home and friends of the victim eliciting public ridicule. It is thought that the term akuzuri-e, which uses the prefix "aku" 悪, meaning "evil" or "bad," derives both from the fact that the printing techniques were poor and the contents were inflammatory. Akuzuri-e originated with an incident in 1861-64, when a man named Gengyo 玄魚 revealed the affair of his friend, a fiction-writer by the pen name of Kanagaki Robun 仮名垣魯文, with a maid named Onobu お信 belonging to the house of Senju Daikoku 千住大黒 by publishing such a print. There is documentary reference to akuzuri-e, along with other types of woodblock prints, in the AKUSHA HYOUBANKI 嗚久者評判記 (1865). From the mid to late 19c, akuzuri-e were popular in literati salons. The prints were very coarsely carved and printed in ink alone or with the addition of only two or three colors. Due to the rough production and secret nature of akuzuri-e, the designers did not sign their names. In cases where the author was discovered, the blocks were destroyed and a note of apology was demanded.


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