Mandarin Ducks (鴛鴦)

Designer: Isoda Koryusai | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Kenichi Kubota

Paper size: 17cm by 23.5cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [M] ? ( Change currency: $ / £ / )

Price: $ 80.00£ 64.75€ 73.75

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Description: This design was created just over two hundred years ago by Isoda Koryusai, one of the designers who worked in the period immediately preceding the introduction of full-colour printing.

The print you see here is not the print he designed - colours have been added; while the original has only three additional colour impressions, this edition has twenty. In fact, the overall style of this print has been transformed into something similar to those prints designed in the first half of the 20th century which we know as 'shin-hanga'. Whether or not Koryusai would approve of this sort of thing is of course a matter of complete speculation, but it is hoped that he would have no quibble with this attempt to bring this design to life in a way that the printers of his day were yet unable to do ...

The poem on the print can perhaps be paraphrased as something like: 'Our warm love will be all the blanket that we need ...' Mandarin ducks are an old Japanese symbol for a happy marriage, as they were thought to mate for life, but as modern research has taught us that the real facts of duck 'togetherness' are somewhat different, it seems that we may have to find a new symbol to replace them!

Here is a set of pages showing the breakdown of colours on this print ...

Note: This print was originally published by David in his Surimono Albums series. He made approximately 200 copies of each of those prints, and distributed them only in album form, never as single prints. It is his idea that after the 200 album sets of any particular album have been sold, the blocks (still in absolutely perfect condition) could then be used to produce prints to be added to the Mokuhankan catalogue, with the printing being done by hired craftsmen working under his direction. The first Surimono Album is now out-of-print, and this is one of the designs from it.

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