Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.15 (2019)

Drawing Method of Ehon Tsuhoushi
by Tachibana Morikuni:

With a Focus on an Illustration of Taikobo in “E-hon Tsuhoushi” Volume 5


Department of Japanese Literature
School of Cultural and Social Studies
SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)

Key words:

Tachibana Morikuni, Ehon Tsuhoushi, Taikobo, title of a picture, Kano-ha, e-dehon, gafu, ehon, tracing policy, Kenjo-no-soji

In the 18th century, books classified as e-dehon (絵手本) or gafu (画譜), which are illustration books for painters to use in their works, were published in Osaka (大坂). Although these were low-brow media as printed books, some painters who studied drawing from such highly regarded schools as Kanoh-ha (狩野派), the most popular school in the Edo period, made e-dehon and gafu. This characteristic coincides with the character of the 18th century, a period where high culture and low culture converged.

Tachibana Morikuni (橘守国) was a painter who studied the methods of the Kanoh-ha school and made many e-dehon in this period. The e-dehon by Morikuni influenced many painters, and this study focuses particularly on the influence on ukiyoe-shi (浮世絵師). Meanwhile, the influences on Morikuni himself are rarely discussed. What knowledge and drawing theories did Morikuni learn from the Kanoh-ha? How did Morikuni use this knowledge and theory in his work? In an attempt to answer these questions, this paper analyzes an illustration of Taikobo (太公望) found in “E-hon Tsuhoushi (絵本通宝志)” Volume 5 by Morikuni.

Volume 5 of “E-hon Tsuhoushi” introduces “Kenjo-no-soji (賢聖障子)”, an illustration of 32 Chinese people set at the shishinden (紫宸殿), the hall where royal ceremonies were held. Taikobo is one of the Chinese people depicted in this illustration. The Kanoh-ha school considered tracing to be the most important aspect of painting, and Morikuni made the same assertion in “E-hon Tsuhoushi”. Thus, one would expect that Morikuni would draw the illustrations to be the same as the original “Kenjo-no-soji” in “E-hon Tsuhoushi”. However, the illustrations in “E-hon Tsuhoushi” are different from the original “Kenjo-no-soji” by Kanoh-ha. Based on an analysis of Taikobo, this paper infers that the illustration was made from two traditional Kanoh-ha illustrations. In other words, Morikuni did not deviate from his claim when he made the new Taikobo illustration.

These illustrations were likely drawn in response to requests from purchasers such as machieshi (町絵師), painters who also painted for townspeople. The original illustration of kenjo-no-soji is too prestigious for machieshi to use. By adopting Kanoh-ha theory and drawing new illustrations in response to the demands of machieshi, Morikuni successfully made new illustrations that were more convenient for them.