Culture Scope: Japanese Woodblock Printing
On this month’s culture scope, we look into the intricate art of Japanese Woodblock printing. In the 8th century China introduced woodblock printing to Japan as the two countries were connected by an intensive cultural exchange at the time.
In the beginning, they were only used for the printing of buddhist texts to be reproduced and preserved on paper. Overtime though, in the 17th century, black and white picture prints began to surface within private studios.
The rise of these artistic prints really came to boom in the Edo period (1603-1868), after centuries of civil wars finally came to an end and an era of peace surfaced. After a new capital was established in a land that would be later known as Tokyo, many crafts and salesmen appeared. One of the most popular emergences of artistry at this time were the ukiyo-e, known as the “images of the floating world”. These were woodblock prints of many vibrant and interesting subjects such as beautiful women, landscapes, animals and the like. They were very reasonably priced and caught the eye of many people.
Teams of publishers, artists, cutters and printers worked together with paper makers in order to create these tiny works of art. It was only later on around the 18th century when they were fully hand painted in a wide spectrum of colors.
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