aiban print format measuring 340 x 220 mm.
aratame censor’s approval seal appearing on prints from 1848.
atenashi bokashi ‘shading without definition’ - achieved by mixing water and pigment on the surface of the block with a brush before printing.
bakufu military government of the Shôgun in Edo.
baren circular bamboo pad used to apply pressure during printing.
beni rose-red organic pigment made from safflowers.
Beni-e hand-coloured prints using beni.
benizuri-e ‘printed beni’ - prints from two or three colour-blocks.
bijin-ga prints of beautiful women.
bokashi technique of grading pigment on a block by hand-wiping.
bunraku later name for jôruri puppet theatre.
chûban print format measuring 290 x 220 mm.
chûnori effect of flying in Kabuki
daimyô feudal lords.
diptych print made up of two sheets printed separately.
Edo name of the capital city in the Edo period, later renamed Tokyo.
Edo period 1603-1868; period of Tokugawa rule.
egoyomi pictorial calendar prints.
ehon banzuke illustrated Kabuki programme book
ga picture; drawn by
gakô preliminary, rough sketch for an ukiyo-e design.
geisha ‘accomplished person’ - skilled hired entertainers (not prostitutes).
Genji-e ’Genji pictures’ - category of pictures on the theme of the Ryutei Tanehiko’s Nise murasaki inaka genji (False Murasaki and a rural Genji), an updating of the classic Heian period classic Genji monagatari (The Tale of Genji), published in 1829-42.
Genjimon symbols identifying particular chapters in Genji monagatari (The Tale of Genji).
gofun pigment made of calcium carbonate powder usually obtained by heating and pulverizing the shells of oysters and clams.
haikai playful linked verse (renga).
hanshita-e ‘block copy picture’ - final outline drawing for woodblock print.
hashira-e pillar print.
hayagawari quick-change technique in Kabuki
Heian period 794-1186; Heian was the early name for Kyoto.
hitsu ’brush of’.
hokku seventeen-syllable verse in haikai (later called haiku).
hôsho highest quality thick kôzo paper.
hosoban print format measuring 330 x 150 mm.
itame mokuhan ‘imitation woodgrain’ - achieved by soaking a densely grained woodblock to emphasize the pattern of the grain.
jorô lower class prostitute
Kabuki popular drama.
kakemono-e hanging-scroll print.
Kamakura period 1186-1336; period when the court was situated in Kamakura.
kamuro child-attendants of oiran.
Kanô traditional school of Chinese-style ink painting.
karazuri ’empty printing’ - blind embossing achieved by ‘printing’ uninked block.
kentô registration mark used to align the blocks.
keren special stage effects in Kabuki.
kibyôshi ‘yellow covers’ - comic illustrated novelettes.
kimedashi technique of embossing lines around forms using uninked concave blocks.
kira mica - silvery iridescent pigment.
kirazuri printing with mica
kiwame censor’s approval seal appearing on prints.
komusô mendicant monks belonging to a branch of Zen Buddhism.
kyôka ‘crazy verse’ of 31 syllables usually parodying classical forms.
Maruyama realist style of painting named after Maruyama Ôkyo (1733-95).
Meiji period 1868-1912.
michiyuki ’poetic journey’ scene in Kabuki.
mitate ‘likened’ - parody.
mon family crest; small denomination of currency.
Muromachi period 1392-1573.
Nanga ’southern painting’ - literati painting based on Chinese models.
nikawa animal collagen glue usually made from deer horns and hide.
nishiki-e ’brocade-picture’ - multicolour prints from five or more colour-blocks.
Noh (nô) classical masked drama; official samurai entertainment in Edo period.
nunomezuri ‘textile printing’ - embossing from textile pasted to surface of woodblock.
ôban print format measuring 390 x 265 mm.
oiran high-ranking courtesan.
ôkubi-e ‘large-head’ picture - bust of half-length portrait.
onnagata male actor specialising in female roles.
renga linked verse.
rônin masterless samurai.
ryô large gold coin, the largest monetary unit.
sake rice wine.
samurai ‘one who serves’ - elite military retainers to daimyô.
sankin kôtai policy of ‘alternate attendance’ in Edo for daimyô.
sen unit of currency - one hundredth of a yen; in 1877 a maidservant earned 3 sen a day, a carpenter 25 sen a day, a cheap pair of shoes cost 5 sen, an ordinary impression of a woodblock print cost 2 sen.
senryû comic hokku.
shamisen long-necked instrument with three strings.
Shijô style/school of painting combining elements of Maruyama and Nanga.
Shintô ’way of the gods’ - native pantheistic religion of Japan.
shinzô apprentice courtesan.
Shôgun military dictators of Japan from 1185 to 1868.
shômenzuri ‘front printing’ - burnishing with a block design carved in reverse.
shunga ‘spring pictures’ - erotica.
sumi black ink made from soot and bound in nikawa.
sumizuri-e ‘printed sumi picture’ - early monochrome prints.
surimono ’printed thing’ - privately-commissioned prints for special occasions.
tachiyaku male lead actor in Kabuki
Tokugawa family of hereditary Shôgun of Edo period.
torii symbolic gateway to Shintô shrine.
Tosa traditional school of Japanese-style painting.
triptych print made up of three sheets printed separately.
tsuyazumi gloss black achieved by burnishing the printed surface.
uchiwa round, non-folding fan.
uki-e ’floating view’ - prints imitating European system of perspective.
ukiyo floating world.
ukiyo-e ’picture(s) of the floating world’; the name given to the school of artists making this sort of picture (which included popular woodblock prints).
ukiyo-zôshi stories of the floating world.
urushi-e ‘lacquer picture’ - named after the glossy effect of adding nikawa to the pigment.
yamabushi itinerant mountain priests.
yen ‘round’ - unit of currency introduced in 1871.
yokobue a transverse flute.
Yoshiwara licensed brothel quarter (yûkaku) in Edo.
Zen sect of Buddhism in Japan emphasising meditation.