The Baekje Kannon has a mysterious smile with a small face with a long face and a tall body that exceeds 2 meters. Wearing an exotic atmosphere, the eight-body slim body is bathed in descending light as if it has descended from heaven to earth.
In 1951 “Baekje Kannon” was designated as the first “new national treasure” as a Buddha image representing the Asuka period, along with the “Sakai Half Buddha” of Hirotaka Temple. The Baekje Kannon is currently enshrined in the Great Hosou-in Temple of Horyuji Temple, which was completed in 1998, but its history is enshrined in mystery as to when it was in Horyuji Temple and why it was transported to Horyuji Temple.
This self-published sosaku-hanga by Shiro Kasamatsu is signed and pencil-numbered 10/50 and dated 1971, making it a very small edition and a rare print.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized sosaku-hanga is in very fine condition to excellent. Beautiful color, intact margins, mostly clean verso. There is toning in the margins and discoloration from tape on the verso, but nothing that affects the beauty of the image itself.
About the Artist
Shiro Kasamatsu (笠松 紫浪, 1898-1991) was a Japanese engraver and print maker trained and excelling in the Shin-Hanga and Sōsaku-Hanga styles of woodblock printing.
Shiro was born in Tokyo in 1898, and was apprenticed at the age of 13 to Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878–1973), a traditional master of bijin-ga. Kasamatsu however took an interest in landscape and was given the pseudonym “Shiro” by his teacher. Kasamatsu made woodblock prints for the publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe from 1919 until the late 1940s. All of the earlier woodblocks were destroyed in a fire in Watanabe’s print shop following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Around 50 prints were published by Watanabe by the late 1940s. Kasamatsu began to partner with Unsodo in Kyoto from the 1950s and produced nearly 102 prints by 1960. He also began to print and publish on his own in the Sōsaku-Hanga style, producing nearly 80 Sōsaku-Hanga prints between 1955 and 1965 (pencil signed and numbered editions).
Shiro Kasamatsu is unique within modern Japanese woodblock printmakers in that he is equally well-regarded for both his shin-hanga and sosaku-hanga prints.