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Tomikichirō Tokuriki – Ise Ama

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SKU: MLS2023028 Categories: , Tag:

Printed in 1978, signed and sealed, but also autographed.

Ama divers have for two thousand years practiced their trade of diving for shellfish, seaweed, and pearls off the coasts of Japan. Traditionally they dive naked except for a waistcloth and a cord with one end above the water. They also carry a knife to pry open shells. Ama once numbered many thousands,[a] but by the beginning of the 21st century only about a thousand remained. Though depicted in their youth in ukiyo-e pictures, the ama was a lifetime job that continued into the woman’s fities.[6]

Ama were known for their coarse manners, and their work coarsened their skin. This was in great contrast to the geishas and courtesans who were normally the subject of ukiyo-e art—their manners were refined, they dressed elegantly, they immersed themselves in high art and culture, and they commanded high prices for their services. The ama were perceived as less feminine, but socially and sexually free. Utamaro and others played with these contrasts, portraying ama in elegant, resting poses as they often did with geisha, but nude and unkempt in their work environment. By contrast, Tokuriki portrays these women from an undersea vantage point, in a way dancing underwater with the rock shelves, kelp, and small fix, their waistcloths, hair, and even bodies seeming to flow in the water.

The Woodblock Print

This shikishiban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Great color throughout without any discoloration, clean margins and a mostly clean verso. One small foxing spot on the center woman’s buttocks. Artist’s name and seal along with pencil signature overtop.

About the Artist

Tomikichiro Tokuriki (徳力富吉郎, March 22, 1902 – 1999) was born in Kyoto, Japan, and the 12th generation of a Kyoto artisan family designated as the official Kyoto print artists for the famous Honganji Temple. First taught by his grandfather, he entered the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts with a two-year preparatory class and four years of regular training, and later a three year training at the Kyoto College of Art, graduating from Kyoto Art College in 1923. While still at college, the young artist discovered his passion for sosaku hanga prints – a movement that had spread from Tokyo to Kyoto. With the assistance of an old carver and an Ukiyo-e printer, Tomikichiro Tokuriki learned everything to master the complete process of design, carving and printing himself.

He produced many sets of prints before and during the Pacific War based on traditional subjects, such as ‘Shin Kyoto fukei’ (‘New View of Kyoto’, 1933-4), which also included designs by Asada Benji and Asano Takeji, and ‘Tokyo hakkei’ (‘Eight Views of Tokyo’, 1942). Most of these were published by Uchida of Kyoto, but after the war Tokuriki set up his own publishing company called Matsukyu, which also began to teach block-carving to artisans and artists, in later years many of them foreigners. In 1948 he also set up a sub-company called Koryokusha consisting of artists who would produce their prints under the financial umbrella of Matsukyu. Later he joined the Hanga Association and met other artists of the sosaku hanga movement like Hiratsuka, Masao Maeda, Kihachiro Shimozawa, Hide Kawanishi and Shiko Munakata.

Tokuriki Tomikichiro produced two lines of prints: there were the sosaku hanga prints, meaning creative prints, which were his real passion, and then there were pastel-like shin-hanga prints in soft colors with scenes of Japanese landscape and famous places, the prints for which he is more popularly known. “I’d rather do nothing but creative prints, but after all, I sell maybe ten of them against two hundred for a publisher-artisan print.” While the artist published his creative hanga-style prints himself, the artisan-prints were published by Uchida, Unsodo and other Kyoto publishers.

Artist

Tokuriki, Tomikichiro

Condition

(A) Very Fine Condition

Date

1960s-1970s

Edition

Lifetime

Movement

Sosaku hanga

Publisher

Self published

Size

Shikishiban (8"x9")

Subjects

River / Lake / Ocean, Women / Geisha

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