Unai no tomo (sumo wrestlers)

by Vintage Editions

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Artist Statement

Unai no tomo (sumo wrestlers) and Unai no tomo (horses) are from Unai no tomo (1891-1924), a series of Meiji era books containing delightfully detailed and wonderfully whimsical woodblock prints of Japanese folk toys.

Unai no tomo is the ten-volume brainchild of artist, calligrapher, and collector Seifu Shimizu (1851-1913). The series is an ode to traditional Japanese folk toys in the form of richly rendered woodblock printing. From hobbyhorses to noisemakers, Unai no tomo documented a variety of objects that were not only articles of play but also items deeply rooted in Shinto and traditional Japanese folklore.

 

Why We Love It

Sumo Wrestlers shows two flat wooden figures with moveable limbs play fighting across the page, while Horses depicts two Miharu-koma wooden horses. Traditionally produced in Miharu, Fukushima, Japan, these painted figurines have their origins in Buddhism and are said to be able to carry messages to the gods and may have been charms for protecting children. Shimizu’s signature bold swathes of saturated color in Horses—from Volume 1—contrast with the delicate linework of the woodgrain in Sumo Wrestlers, which appears much later in Volume 7. After Shimizu’s death in 1913, his close friend Nishizawa Tekiho completed the final volumes with a slightly more subtle flair.

Details

+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available

Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.

Medium:

Innova Soft White Cotton IFA 15

Edition Structure:
8"x10" | edition of 20
11"x14" | edition of 100
16"x20" | edition of 25
20"x24" | edition of 10

Vintage Editions

For our Vintage Editions series, our curators scour historical archives for both timeless classics and heretofore unseen gems. These images come back to life as exhibition-quality prints now available to everyone. As a bonus, purchasing equals patronage: sales from Vintage Edition prints go towards supporting our growing roster of artists.
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