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This 1862 print from the series, "A Modern Water Margin," by Utagawa Kunisada is reproduced from "Tattoos in Japanese Prints" by Sarah E. Thompson. Published by MFA Publications, it is distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

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.

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Hbk, 7.5 x 9.75 in. / 152 pgs / 90 color.

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