SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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Children's Games [via Japanese Paintings]

The laid-in English description includes (in part): "Hane-tsuki: 'Battledore and Shuttlecock,' a game played principally during the first ten days of the New Year"; "Koma Asobi: 'Playing with Tops,' and Tamaya: 'Blowing Soap-bubbles"; "Sugoroku, a sort of backgammon"; "Hotaru-gari: 'Hunting Fireflies"; and more, including descriptions of holidays like Obon and making "snowmen" of Daruma, the iconographic image of the monk who brought Zen to Japan. The skill of late-era ukiyo-e and nihonga artist Kobayashi Eitaku is evident in this collection, which showcases traditional subjects and aesthetics - very much in response to the Western styles enjoying a growing vogue in the Meiji era. Publisher Nagao explains in the preface that he wanted to create a work of virtuosity within the form, both for love of the art and as a patriotic homage to Japan's homegrown arts in the face of Western ones: to this end, he issued the publication with Japanese, French, and English text.

Tokyo: Hakubunkwan, 1894.
Tokyo: Hakubunkwan, 1894.

Second edition. (11.5" x 9") oblong 4to, or (29 x 23 cm.) Original gold silk over boards with paper label. Moderate edgewear. Accordion or Leporello format. Japanese/English text, 13 mounted colour woodblocks, gilt, and black spotted decorations in margins. Clean and bright. Depicting Japanese children at play, highlighting the building of a snowman, or perhaps playing with a top? A nice, unusual item. There is a scene for every month of that year, alternating boy's games with that of the girls. Coloured plates in order: 1. Children are building a snowman. 2. Children playing in a park by a lake. 3. While catching butterflies and insects, children run after a startled hare. 4. Children (indoors) playing 'silhouettes' and watching revolving shadow scenes with a coloured lantern. 5. Girls and some amateur singing. 6. Children playing musical instruments and mimicking and festival. 7. Catching and studying goldfish from a tank by a river. 8. Catching fireflies. 9. Boys mimicking heroic samurai swordsmanship! 10. Children playing board games. (Sugoroku & Juroku-Musashi) 11. Children blow 'bubbles' & spinning a wooden top with string. 12. Children playing a form of Badminton or 'Battledore &. Shuttlecock.' 13. Japanese Festive Gifts.