|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
known as oiwake-e 追分絵, derived from place names on the outskirts of Ootsu.
Small paintings produced for travelers and pilgrims to Miidera 三井寺 by artists
in Ootsu 大津, the well frequented post town on the Toukaidou 東海道, at the tip of
Lake Biwa 琵琶 in Oumi 近江 province (present-day Shiga prefecture), not far from
Kyoto. The works are unsigned and undated. Documentary evidence suggests they
began to be sold from the Kan'ei 寛永 era (1624-44). Travel guide books such as
FUURYUU TABINIKKI 風流旅日記 (published 1684-88) suggest that early characteristic
ootsu-e subjects depicted Buddhist themes that included *tenjin
天神, Amida raigou-zu 阿弥陀来迎図 and the Blue-faced Deity Shoumen Kongou
青面金剛. By around the 1860's images of popular story characters or humorous figures
were widely sold including Gongorou 権五郎 and the arrow Ya-no-ne gorou
Demon Impersonating a Nenbutsu Reciter Oni-no-nenbutsu 鬼念仏, Catfish and Gourd Hyoutannamazu 瓢箪鯰, Retainer Carrying Pike in Daimyou Processions Yakko yarimochi 奴槍持 and Dancing Girl with Wisteria Fujimusume 藤娘 are among the subjects of ootsu-e. By the 1700's popular rather than religious subjects including the above as well as *kabuki 歌舞伎 actors came to predominate.
Although often possessed of great charm and the verve of rapidly brushed *sumi 墨 outlines (and from the late Edo period sometimes poetic inscriptions) with bright splashes of unmodulated mineral pigments (orange, green, yellow), stock images were increasingly repeated in great numbers and are extant today in nearly identical versions. Often used as protective amulets gofu 護符 pasted up, for example, in kitchens and farm buildings. Popular throughout the country, *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 artists in Edo, such as Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 (1786-1865) and Kuniyoshi 国芳 (1797-1861) in the early 19c, incorporated the distinctive designs into several woodblock print series. This may account for the legendary accounts which link the origins of the type to Iwasa Matabee 岩佐又兵衛 (1578-1650) and early ukiyo-e. Continued to be produced through the Meiji period.
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