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PUBLISHER
MFA Publications

BOOK FORMAT
Hardcover, 7.5 x 9.75 in. / 152 pgs / 90 color.

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Pub Date
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D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: FALL 2017 p. 33   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9780878468461 TRADE
List Price: $24.95 CDN $33.95

AVAILABILITY
In stock

Lush, colorful images of flowers blooming on the arm of a thief, sea monsters coiling across the back of a hero and legendary warriors battling on the chests of actors

BOOKSELLER TRADE ANNOTATION

The perfect gift for the inked crowd that yearns for the real history behind the tattoo.
  • ABOUT THE BOOK: A Compact & AFFORDABLE introduction to the parallel histories of Japanese tattoos and prints. Features high quality illustrations of ukiyo-e prints from the incomparable collection of Japanese art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • 19th Century Japanese prints as the inspiration behind contemporary and historical tattoos. Lush colorful images of flowers, sea monsters, and warriors.
  • Paper over board , 7 x 9 and $24.95 will work in TATTOO/ ALT Culture sections as well as for aficionados of Asian art.

  

MFA PUBLICATIONS

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

By Sarah E. Thompson.

Featured image is reproduced from 'Tattoos in Japanese Prints.'

Tattoo inspiration from the glory days of Japanese ukiyo-e prints

Many tattoo connoisseurs consider the Japanese tradition to be the finest in the world for its detail, complexity and compositional skill. Its style and subject matter are drawn from the visual treasure trove of Japanese popular culture, in particular the color woodblock prints of the early 19th century known as ukiyo-e.

This book tells the fascinating story of how ukiyo-e first inspired tattoo artists as the pictorial tradition of tattooing in Japan was just beginning. It explores the Japanese tattoo’s evolving meanings, from symbol of devotion to punishment and even to crime, and reveals the tales behind specific motifs. With lush, colorful images of flowers blooming on the arm of a thief, sea monsters coiling across the back of a hero and legendary warriors battling on the chests of actors, the tattoos in these prints can offer the same vivid inspiration today as they did 200 years ago.


Featured image is reproduced from 'Tattoos in Japanese Prints.'

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

The Economist

India Stoughton

The tattooed hipsters of 18th-century Japan.

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

in stock  $24.95


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FROM THE BOOK
Excerpt

Plays and prints occasionally depict onnadate, female equivalents of the otokodate, but they do not have tattoos. Pictorial tattooing for women as well as men appears to have begun only in the twentieth century. Although modern artists and filmmakers often show Edo-period women receiving tattoos, no direct evidence shows women with tattoos (beyond the short tattooed inscriptions of lovers’ names) dating from the Edo period or even the Meiji era. The one apparent exception seems to be a gender-bending joke: a triptych of tattooed women by Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) that actually shows the supposedly female figures with the faces of male kabuki actors. A somewhat similar joke slanted in the opposite direction appears on a postcard of 1907. An actress in a production that may be a forerunner of the famous all-female Takarazuka Revue, founded just six years later in 1913, cross-dresses for her stage role as a male hero. She wears a bodysuit with a painted tattoo to conceal her feminine body as she ties a man’s loincloth around her waist.

The idea that women were tattooed during the Edo period seems to have originated with a very famous short story by a major modern writer, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō (1886–1965): “The Tattooer” (Shisei), published in 1910. In a tale of perverse eroticism, the tattooer of the title becomes obsessed with a young woman, drugs her, and tattoos a giant spider on her back — thereby making her an irresistible seductress who will, the author implies, lure the tattooer himself to his death. The story is set during the Edo period, in about the 1840s, but apparently Tanizaki had originally conceived it as a present-day story. Since in 1910 tattooing was still illegal for all citizens, and in any case Tanizaki’s story is clearly a male sexual fantasy that does not necessarily reflect reality, it is uncertain when real-life women began to have large tattoos. Still, the early twentieth century was a time of expansion of women’s activities, in Japan as elsewhere, and these social changes may have been reflected in the world of underground tattooing as well. - Sarah E. Thompson

FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/3/2017

Courtesans, clients and codes in eighteenth-century Japanese tattoos

Courtesans, clients and codes in eighteenth-century Japanese tattoos

“Onitsutaya Azamino and Gontaro, a Man of the World” (1798-99), by master ukiyo-e woodblock printer Kitagawa Utamaro I, is reproduced from Tattoos in Japanese Prints from MFA Publications. It is one of many prints depicting the codes and rituals of adding (or erasing) erotically charged tattoos in eighteenth-century Japan, where "a homemade tattoo was one method of proving romantic or religious devotion,” according to author Sarah E. Thompson. “Both men and women vowed eternal love by getting a tattoo of the name of the beloved plus the word “life” (inochi), with the last stroke of the word written extra long to suggest lifelong devotion.” Here, the courtesan Azamino uses a needle on her lover, Gontaro. continue to blog


FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/2/2017

Dive deep into the history of Japanese tattoos in this new gem from MFA Boston

Dive deep into the history of Japanese tattoos in this new gem from MFA Boston

In the early 1860s, Japanese master woodblock printer Utagawa Kunisada created a series of prints featuring famous Edo-era actors in imaginary roles based loosely on stories about a real-life group of outlaws. It was too dangerous to perform these thinly disguised roles as a play or print them in book form—but they did circulate in a hand-written manuscript with prompts for oral storytelling. In this 1862 ukiyo-e print from the A Modern Water Margin series, actor Bando Kamezo I brandishes a cooking knife as the character Oni “Demon” Keisuke; his ominous tattoo is of the prickly oniazami weed known as “demon thistle.” Read more on the history of Tattoos in Japanese Prints in the enlightening new survey from MFA Publications, the publishing imprint of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. continue to blog


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