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#1 2005-12-12 23:04:00

Moran from Planet X
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A komuso woodblock print

http://static.flickr.com/35/72319848_e37046cd04_o.jpg


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#2 2005-12-16 23:18:46

steven
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From: Seattle
Registered: 2005-11-15
Posts: 13

Re: A komuso woodblock print

Thanks for posting the print Chris,

I'm totally ignorant about the history of the shakuhachi and relevant art, but I think the print is great. Is there a story to go along with it that you enjoy?

Steven

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#3 2005-12-17 02:50:12

Moran from Planet X
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

steven wrote:

Is there a story to go along with it that you enjoy?

Steven

We are fortunate that woodblock artists of 19th century Japan enjoyed depicting shakuhachi players*. In particular this print from the 1850s or early 1860s by Kunisada (Tokoyuni III) gives a lot of detail to the instrument, making me wonder if he was a flute player.

The figure is that of a komuso ("priest of nothingness and emptiness" who played shakuhachi for alms) removing his tengai (a basket-shaped woven hat to "disguise" and help depersonalize the monk). Other than that I have no further information.

Lots of information on komuso on the Web, relatively speaking, if you check on Google. Try International Shakuhachi Society at http://www.komuso.com

The komuso in this depiction appears to have a bandana of some kind presumably covering his shaved forelock. I wonder if this was common?


*(unlike modern filmmakers who rarely depict shakuhachi players in their historical movies set in the Edo and Meiji Periods.)

Last edited by Chris Moran (2005-12-17 02:53:43)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#4 2005-12-18 14:20:53

rpowers
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From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: A komuso woodblock print

Chris Moran wrote:

The komuso in this depiction appears to have a bandana of some kind presumably covering his shaved forelock. I wonder if this was common?

The "bandanna" is probably the representation of the shaved area--notice that the hair on the sides is not covered, which would require a rather ingeniously designed bandanna. This stubble effect is more often printed using blue. It visually defines that area as the top of the head as opposed to a very high forehead--a nice trick to show some turning quality in a generally flat medium.

Rich


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#5 2005-12-18 15:20:28

kyoreiflutes
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From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

Yes, the head covering here is definately supposed to be the shaved spot. I was going to say that it could be some sort of head covering regarding his Tengai, perhaps some sort of "pad", but then I saw the sides thing, and realized that you're right.

It is too bad that there's not more going on in Japan regarding the Shakuhachi and the Kumoso. It's an interesting history, and I feel like it's slipping away from the Japanese. Too bad.

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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#6 2005-12-23 03:35:21

bluespiderweb
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From: Southeastern PA USA
Registered: 2005-10-31
Posts: 66

Re: A komuso woodblock print

Yes, thanks Chris, for sharing that great print!  I'd like to see more if you run across more with the shakuhachi players, anytime.


Be well,  Barry

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#7 2005-12-29 19:44:57

ironmoon
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Registered: 2005-12-29
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

Please remember that the VAST majority of Japanese prints depicting komuso are actually depicting kabuki actors performing the role of komuso in various kabuki plays, hence the very stylish look of their hair, robes, etc.  the one above is a classic example.
-Scott

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#8 2005-12-30 07:56:11

Moran from Planet X
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

ironmoon wrote:

Please remember that the VAST majority of Japanese prints depicting komuso are actually depicting kabuki actors performing the role of komuso in various kabuki plays, hence the very stylish look of their hair, robes, etc.  the one above is a classic example.
-Scott

So help us out, ironmoon-san, are you implying that our since our man Kunisada's subject is rooted in kabuki (as most Kunisada are) that our komuso pictured above is only

... half-VAST? wink


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#9 2005-12-30 14:32:07

kyoreiflutes
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From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

Actually, with the Kabuki-style makeup he has on, and the exaggerated swords and such, not to mention the awkward pose, I'd say that it just may BE an image of a Kabuki performer. I'm not TOO learned on the subject, but I do pay attention to details, and I've seen a lot of performances, but I can't say for sure, obviously. I wish I did know more about this.

-E

EDIT: Here's a link to a decent Tengai, if anyone's interested:

http://japan-cc.com/

Enter thier Web Catalog, then scroll down until you see Tengai.

Last edited by kyoreiflutes (2005-12-30 15:29:54)


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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#10 2006-01-01 01:04:20

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

kyoreiflutes wrote:

Actually, with the Kabuki-style makeup he has on, and the exaggerated swords and such, not to mention the awkward pose, I'd say that it just may BE an image of a Kabuki performer.

Yes, the image is kabuki based. I don't think that was ever a question, really. Utagawa Kunisada (Tokoyuni III) was known primarily for his depictions of kabuki actors.

There were many codes of acceptability regarding all public imagery during the Edo period (1603-1867). Many subjects were taboo (for a certain time depictions of kabuki actors by name were banned). You're not going to see any offically censored woodcuts of slums or areas hit by famine during the Edo. Erotic imagery was completely and literally forced under the counter. Some of the shakuhachi imagery I have seen from that time has a distinctly erotic element to it, as the word shakuhachi was also a euphemism for oral sex.

Last edited by Chris Moran (2006-01-01 01:25:49)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#11 2006-01-01 01:37:49

kyoreiflutes
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From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
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Re: A komuso woodblock print

I can see that. I can also see the basic shape of the flute having something to do with that, as well.

Interesting.

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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#12 2006-01-01 19:28:52

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: A komuso woodblock print

Here's a site I found that seems to deal with a LOT of Japanese art, and has many articles on the subject, with categories. Pretty nice.

Just look to the left, and you'll see a list of Japanese-related stuff.

http://www.artelino.com/articles/modern_art_periods.asp

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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