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Ehon waka Ebisu 絵本龢謌夷 (The Young God Ebisu, an Illustrated Book)

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Ehon waka Ebisu 絵本龢謌夷 (The Young God Ebisu, an Illustrated Book)
  • Description

    Illustrated book, folding album, colour woodblock print. One volume. Sixty poems celebrating coming of spring by sixty poets on five double pages, and five illustrations by Utamaro of New Year scenes. Covers: Original, dark blue, painted with horizontal cloud bands, grasses and pine shoots. Title slips: (missing, originally pasted in top left corner of cover). Contents: 12 leaves: 1 double-page preface, 10 double pages alternating illustrations and poems, 1 double-page postscript and colophon. Illustrations: New Year at court (Kyutei no shogatsu); New Year in a samurai mansion (Buke no shogatsu); Delivering New Year gifts in the snow (Setchu no nenrei); New Year street-performers (Dai-kagura); Performance by a trained monkey (Saru-hiki).With brass dust, gold and silver leaf and gauffrage. Inscribed and signed.

    [JH.153, image 1] -
    [JH.153, image 2] -
    [JH.153, image 3] -
    [JH.153, image 3F] -
    [JH.153, image 3P] -
    [JH.153, image 4] -
    [JH.153, image 5] -
    [JH.153, image 5F] -
    [JH.153, image 6] -
    [JH.153, image 7] -
    [JH.153, image 8] -
    [JH.153, image 9] -
    [JH.153, image 10] -
    [JH.153, image 11] -
    [JH.153, image 11F] -
    [JH.153, image 12] -
    [JH.153, image 13] -
    [JH.153, image 14] -


  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1789 (New Year)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 25.8 centimetres
    • Width: 18.9 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        画工 喜多川哥麿
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Gako Kitagawa Utamaro
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Mokuen no in
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        東都通油町 蔦屋重三郎梓行
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Toto Toriabura-cho Tsutaya Juzaburo shiko
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Shikatsube no Magao shirusu 
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Yadoya no Meshimori 
  • Curator's comments

    A punning meaning of the title is 'Poems in comic style' (i.e. kyoka). The five illustrations by Utamaro show New Year scenes enjoyed by different classes. First comes celebrations at the Imperial court, done in the archaic Tosa style. (Label copy, TTC, 1999.)Hillier and Smith 1980

    This is one of a series of New Year albums, each of five colour prints, to which 'Kyogetsubo' and 'Ginsekai' (1979, 0305, 0154 and 1979, 0305, 0526) also belong. The title is not easily translatable because of a play, or plays, on words: 'Ebisu' is the popular god most associated with the New Year, but 'waka' can be 'young' or 'thirty-one syllable poem'. Broadly, the meaning can be taken as 'An Anthology of New Year Verse'. The contents are varied, with two prints simulating the courtly 'Tosa' style, a third, Moronobu period genre, the remaining two being contemporary 'Ukiyoe'.

    Binyon, Laurence, and Sexton, J J O'Brien, 'Japanese Colour Prints' (new edn.), London, 1963, pp. 218-19.
    Brown, Louise Norton, 'Block Printing and Book Illustration in Japan', London and New York, 1924, p. 169.
    Keyes, Roger, 'Envisioning the Past: Utamaro's Album "Waka Ebisu" in "A Sheaf of Japanese Papers"', The Hague, 1979.
    Odaka, Sennosuke, "Umaro ehon ko" (A Study of Utamaro's Illustrated Books), 'Ukiyoye no kenkyu', 20, vol. 5, Tokyo, 1928, no. 1.Asano and Clark 1995

    Compiled by Yadoya no Meshimori. The title can mean both "the young god Ebisu" and "poems in comic style". The first of these meanings refers to a lucky charm in the form of an image of a statue of the lucky god Ebisu printed on a piece of paper, that was sold by itinerant vendors at the New Year. The second meaning refers to poems composed in the comic style of Edo, that is to say ‘kyoka’. Regrettably, the British Museum copy is lacking both the original title slip, which reads "Waka Ebisu — complete" (Waka Ebisu, zen) and the printed date in the colophon which reads "Beginning of spring in the year of the cock" (Tori no hatsu haru). From this the date of publication is known to be the New Year, 1789.

    Otaka, Sennosuke 尾高鮮之助, "Utamaro no kibyoshi ko, 1-3" 『歌麿の黄表紙考(一)~(三)』, ‘Mizue’「みづゑ」, pp. 275-277, 1928, 5-6.
    ‘Kokusho somokuroku 国書総目録’, vol. 1, Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo, 1963-72, 504.
    Keyes, Roger, "Envisioning the Past: Utamaro's Album Waka Ebisu", in ‘A Sheaf of Japanese Papers’, ed. Matthi Forrer, The Hague, Society for Japanese Arts and Crafts, 1979.
    Hillier, Jack, ‘The Art of the Japanese Book’, Sotheby's Publications, London, 1987, 420, 423-5.
    Smith, Lawrence, ‘Ukiyoe: Images of Unknown Japan’, BMP, London, 1988, book no. 21.
    ‘Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan’「秘蔵浮世絵大観」, gen. ed. Narazaki, Muneshige, vol. 3, Kodansha, Tokyo, 1987-90, 247-251.

    Other copies:
    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
    Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin.
    Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art, Dublin.
    Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge (Mass.).
    Keio Gijuku 慶応義塾, Tokyo.
    National Diet Library 国立国会図書館.
    Gerhard Pulverer Collection.
    Ota Memorial Museum of Art 太田記念美術館, Tokyo.
    Toyo Bunko 東洋文庫, Tokyo.
    Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

    [Main text translated in Japanese below / 以下上記本文日本語訳]

    浅野/クラーク 1995

    宿屋飯盛の撰。「龢謌夷」は和歌夷と同義で、若夷からの着想であろう。若夷は夷(恵比須)の像を刷った紙片で、元旦に売り歩いた縁起物である。和歌夷にはまた、夷曲の和歌(江戸風の狂れ歌、すなわち狂歌)の意味も込められている。大英博物館本には、惜しいことに題簽と年記が欠けているが、初版本の原題簽は「龢謌夷 全」となっており、跋文に「とりのはつ春」の年記が入っていて、天明九年(寛政元年)正月刊であることがわかる。


  • Bibliography

    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 3 247-251 bibliographic details
    • Asano & Clark 1995 465 bibliographic details
    • Hillier & Smith 1980 55 bibliographic details
    • Smith 1988 Books:21 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: New Year
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • JH.153 (Hillier no.)


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