UT scholar delves into Hiroshige’s paintings to explore Edo era Japan
TEHRAN – Iranian scholar Seyyed Ayat Hosseini has examined Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s woodblock prints to discuss social conditions in Japan during the Edo period, which fell between 1603 and 1867.
Hosseini, a professor of Japanese at the University of Tehran, has carried out his studies based on “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido”, Hiroshige’s series produced in 1833–1834.
Accordingly, the Iranian publisher Parandeh has published Hosseini’s studies in a book of the same title.
Hiroshige produced the series in 1833 during a journey on the imperial road called the Tokaido, which ran from Edo (modern Tokyo) to the emperor’s palace in Kyoto.
The road was originally built for the ruling shogun, based in Edo, to bring offerings to the emperor. The government set up 53 stations along the Tokaido as stopping points for travelers.
By Hiroshige’s time, the road was a popular scenic route, marked by many temples, shrines, shops and inns, which he made famous through his prints.
The scenes are a blend of the grandeur of a noble feudal lord’s (daimyo’s) lifestyle, realistic images of daily life and ordinary people like merchants or workers, and a refined depiction of nature, which was very important to the Japanese.
Hiroshige was familiar with European painting and often introduced perspective into his prints, although the ultimate effect of his scenes is the distinct linear character of his designs.
Inexpensive in their day, these prints served as travel souvenirs or as enticements to would-be travelers.
The complete series once owned by architect Frank Lloyd Wright was granted to the Dallas Museum of Art by Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus in 1984.
The collection is comprised of 55 prints, one of each of the stations plus two for the beginning and endpoints.
Hosseini has captioned all the monuments, people, objects and events Hiroshige illustrated in his woodblock prints.
The book has been offered by the publisher at the 33rd Tehran International Book Fair underway at Imam Khomeini Mosalla.
“Nihonbashi, Leaving Edo” is one of the prints from the series “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido”.
This print marks the starting point of the Tokaido route from Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge) in Edo. Upon close examination, one can see a diverse range of characters making up the scene. There are daimyos (feudal lords), flower sellers, young Buddhist disciples and an array of animals in a lively display. The colors of the sky here are a simple and effective way to indicate an early sunrise scene at the start of the journey.
Courtesy of Tehran Times