nagasaki hanga 長崎版画
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also called nagasaki-e 長崎絵 or Nagasaki prints. Woodblock prints made in the port city of Nagasaki during the Edo period as souvenirs for visitors to Nagasaki, thus also called miyage hanga 土産版画 (souvenir prints). Nagasaki hanga were designed to satisfy the curiosity that the Japanese felt about foreigners, whom they were generally forbidden to meet. These simple works, which were printed on low quality paper from crudely carved woodblocks and colored by hand or with the use of a stencil, served as inexpensive mementos for merchants or scholars who were able to travel to Nagasaki on business. The first prints were made around the 1750s and grew out of an earlier map-making industry, which had been stimulated by the rising interest in Dutch studies rangaku 蘭学. Although generally a commercial production which valued speed and efficiency over aesthetic quality, the prints are now valued for their simplicity, charm and naivete. Techniques and styles were borrowed from the new year's print nenga 年画 (Ch: nianhua) tradition which came from Suzhou (Jp: Soshuu 蘇州) in China. Subject matter was related to foreigners and their ships. Between one-third and one-half of these prints pictured Chinese subjects such as children, courtesans, landscapes and military events. Dutch and Chinese men were also depicted with objects such as clay pipes, wine flasks and wine glasses, walking canes, dogs and musical instruments. From the 19c on, other foreigners came to be represented, including Russians, Koreans, British, French, and, finally, Americans. Ships, exotic birds and animals, and occasional portraits of European women were also popular. A dozen publishing firms were supported from around 1750 to 1850 by the modest commercial success of these prints. The four main publishing houses were the Hariya 針屋, the Toshimaya 豊島屋, the Bunkindou 文錦堂, and the Yamatoya 大和屋. Late Edo period souvenir prints from these firms achieved high standards of technical quality which rivaled the best woodblock prints of Edo.

*Nagasakiha 長崎派 

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