The Riddles of Ukiyo-e : Women and Men in Japanese Prints 1765–1865

Drawing on images of women and men from the heyday of Japanese printmaking, this book explores the subtle iconography and complex symbols inherent in the tradition of ukiyo-e (traditional Japanese woodblock printing meaning 'Fleeting World'). The intriguing elements refer to Japanese history, literature, mythology, fashion, folklore and gossip of the Edo period and are at times difficult to discern, let alone grasp, without proper knowledge. Divided into classic printmaking themes such as beautiful women, heroes, actors and shunga (erotic prints), this lavishly illustrated book provides readers with the keys to understanding the hidden meanings in more than 100 top Japanese prints. 
Beautiful women – including ladies from Edo's famous Yoshiwara brothel district – take up much of the book. Heroes and villains illustrate Japan's rich mythological and pseudo-historical past. The popular pastimes of kabuki and sumo are also covered: famous actors play their best-known roles as brave men or delicate geisha. These colourful masterpieces demonstrate the economy of line and powerful expression of the woodblock medium. Each print is explored in the finest detail in order to explain the many riddles of ukiyo-e – that intriguing and captivating mode of visual expression that had such a profound influence on Western art.
February 2023
256 pp.
29 × 23,5 cm
1,7 kg