Ebisu and Daikoku (恵比寿と大黒)

Designer: Totoya Hokkei | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Natsuki Suga

Paper size: 21cm by 18.5cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [M] ? ( Change currency: $ / £ / )

Price: $ 90.00£ 72.50€ 83.50

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Description: No room for all seven of them in this circular design by Totoya Hokkei - you’ll have to be satisfied with just two of the Seven Lucky Gods. Ebisu is here, together with his fishing rod and the sea bream he has caught, and Daikoku raises his magic mallet while dancing in front of his sack full of treasure. But just in case you might think that only two of them won’t suffice to bring enough luck, Hokkei has included a background pattern containing even more symbols of good fortune: the straw raincoat and hat providing invisibility, a scroll representing wisdom, a purse of inexhaustible riches, cloves (a very rare spice in those days), and a four-way divided circle shiho, which makes a pun on shippo, seven treasure jewels. Still not enough? Well, repeating those symbols more than a hundred times should do the trick!

During the lifetime of most of the traditional carvers and printers still working now, prints like this have never been made. This has partly been due to fashion - the famous Hokusai and Hiroshige designs captured everyone’s eye - but perhaps a more fundamental reason has been economics. There is a staggering amount of detailed carving in this print, most of it quite delicate and time-consuming, there are quite a lot of printing impressions (including metal powders), and the keyblock is a very expensive piece of boxwood. The costs are thus very high, but because the finished product is so small in size, the public generally will not pay much for it. As a consequence, work of this type disappeared from the market long ago, and most currently active printers have never even seen prints like this, let alone had a chance to work on one.

But for us here at Mokuhankan, those ‘negatives’ are actually ‘positives’. We want to push ourselves to make prints as good as any that were made in days gone by. We’re not there yet - far from it! - but we’re having a lot of fun along the way ...

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