kawaraban 瓦版
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. roof-tile print. Also later known as yomiuri 読売 (sell by reading), because newsprint vendors read their product aloud in public to help sell them. Woodblock-printed news-sheets published during the Edo period. It is believed that early examples were sometimes printed on flat ceramic tiles rather than wood, thus the name. They contained news of fires and other disasters, double suicides, revenge tales and other topics of interest to the townspeople. Kawaraban were produced in particularly large numbers following the Toukaidou 東海道 Tidal Wave of 1854 and the great Ansei 安政 Earthquake in Edo of the following year. Prevalent among the earthquake news-sheets were pictures of catfish *namazu-e 鯰絵, a fish associated in popular lore with earthquakes. Kawaraban often discussed political developments, current manners and customs, and thus were often censored or prohibited. Because they were illicitly produced, most did not include the publisher's name. Kawaraban continued to be read widely by the public until the advent of newspapers in the Meiji period.


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