|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
|Lit. printed matter. High quality, privately sponsored woodblock prints mainly produced 1790's-1830's. Originally, the term was used for any woodblock print, but in the Edo period commercially published prints began to be referred to as pictures (e 絵). The term surimono came to mean prints commissioned by groups for writing kyouka 狂歌, 31 syllable comic poems, or haiku 俳句, 17 syllable poems, as well as prints privately commissioned for New Years greetings *saitan surimono 歳旦摺物, or other seasonal celebrations, or as announcements of musical events and other entertainments. Poems written by club members were included on prints and often provided a subject or theme for the pictorial motifs. Regular *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 prints which were sold to the general public, were subject to greater scrutiny by the censor who enforced the regulations on extravagance but surimono were exempted from government regulations on extravagance. Surimono were designed for a private, educated clientele who had considerable influence on the final designs. The demands of sponsoring groups in competing for the best and most innovative printing techniques available led the way to the full development of such virtuoso printing techniques as embossing and metal onlay. More expensive pigment and supple, thick *housho 奉書 paper were used, to create luxurious prints. Because surimono allowed the artist more freedom in subject matter and style, subjects like the exploration of a still-life theme could be addressed, which was rare in commercial ukiyo-e prints. Exemption also gave artists liberty in format size. The largest surimono size, and the most distinctive format, was the yokonagaban 横長判 (long, horizontal format) in which a sheet (approximately 40 X 53 cm) was folded in half lengthwise. The text and the image were physically divided by this folding, with the picture decorating the outside, a sort of visual introduction to the text inside. This format suited the longer texts such as programs of events, or larger collections of poetry. The text and image are more intimately tied in other surimono formats especially the *shikishiban 色紙判 (or kakuhan 角判) where the poetry and the design were not separated by folding. Measuring approximately 205 X 185 mm, the square format of the *shikishi 色紙 had been used since the Heian period for calligraphy, particularly of waka 和歌, Japanese classical 31-syllable poetry. The use of this format was probably not accidental as the kyouka often satirized classical poetry and the parody continued into the format and sometimes even to the image portrayed. Often the image presented a type of visual game for the viewer, for example with disguised symbols of the season or the zodiac year. Surimono can be said to have developed from calendar prints, e-goyomi 絵暦 which were popular from the mid-1760's. Kyouka poetry came into fashion in the 1780s. The earliest known kyouka surimono 狂歌摺物 dates to 1785, and saitan surimono became increasingly popular after 1790. In the 1830s the vogue in Edo for kyouka ended, although haiku verse surimono continued to be produced into the mid-19c. Many of the finest surimono were produced by Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760-1849), his pupils, such as Totoya Hokkei 魚屋北渓 (1780-1850) as well as Kubo Shunman 窪俊満 (1757-1820), and Yashima Gakutei 八島岳亭 (1786?-1868).|
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