About the Collection

To view a listing of objects without the introductory text, click here.

The Tokuno donation comprised about 200 objects. There were 44 tools used for cutting and printing the wood blocks, with 17 samples of pigments used for the colors. The tools appear to be new, so presumably they were purchased to make up the complete package. There were 21 wood blocks and 71 progressive color proofs and prints made for a triptych, three images intended to be joined for viewing. Beyond the seven watercolors showing the process, there was also a selection of additional prints and books not related to the triptych series of blocks and prints, including a sequence of 35 progressive proofs for a delicate botanical image, Nandina domestica. Most of these items have been imaged and are shown below, with a few exceptions that represent losses, inevitable in such an old collection that was moved and reinstalled several times.

Addition of the carmine color to the print

Left: The key block for printing the general outline of the design. Middle: The block for registering the carmine color to the print. Right: Prints showing the addition of the carmine color in the kimono.

In recent years several scholars have visited NMAH to view the collection, and we have learned a good deal from their research as featured in their exhibitions and publications. A 2012-2013 exhibition at the Smart Museum of the University of Chicago, Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints, included blocks, tools, and prints lent by NMAH. It presented some parallels between developments in color printing that occurred in France and Japan from the 18th through the early 20th centuries in the context of their interactions and further developments in China and Europe.

Each color added to the print requires a seperately cut and inked plank. This gif shows the progressive prints in series as colors are added, leading to the completed triptych shown at the top of the page.

“Farmers” (Nō), a scene related to A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji)

Each color added to the print requires a separately cut and inked plank. This gif shows the progressive prints in series as colors are added, leading to the completed triptych shown at the top of the page.

In an essay for the Awash in Color catalogue, Andreas Marks discussed the NMAH triptych -- Inaka [Rustic] Genji -- and compared it with the only other known copy, which is located at the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum in Matsumoto. As Dr. Marks noted, the triptych was designed by Utagawa Kuniteru II and published by Daikokuya (Matsuki) Heikichi. Originally it was intended to be one of a series of four triptychs, but no other designs from the series are known. The subject, titled “Farmers” (Nō), belongs to a subgenre of ukiyo-e called Genjie (‘Genji pictures’), which depict characters and scenes based on Murasaki Shikibu’s classic novel The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari) written about the year 1000. The NMAH triptych was published about 1870 and intended as a print series related to A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki (Nise Murasaki inaka Genji), a very popular 19th-century serial novel written by Ryūtei Tanehiko and published in parts from 1829 to 1842. It seems likely that by the late 1880s the publisher realized that these prints would not in fact be issued and so the blocks became available for Tokuno’s agency to send to the U.S. The three key blocks with the line images for the triptych date from 1869, and pigment analysis carried out on a surviving impression in Japan bears out this chronology. Recent research by Columbia Professor Henry Smith suggests, however, that the color blocks may have been cut later. The color wood blocks and the edition of prints made from them may have been produced specifically for the Smithsonian as the colors are quite different from the other surviving set in Japan.

Watercolor drawing depicting the activities of the block cutter for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. I". One of a series of drawings received about 1890 that later were used to model manikins and lay out the Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques.
Description
Watercolor drawing depicting the activities of the block cutter for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. I". One of a series of drawings received about 1890 that later were used to model manikins and lay out the Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques. Published in Tokuno essay on Japanese woodcutting and wood-cut printing, edited by S. R. Koehler for SI Annual Report for 1892.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca1888-89
ID Number
GA.03209.01
accession number
22582
catalog number
03209.01
Watercolor drawing depicting the tools of the block cutter for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. II" with 25 numbered drawings of tools. The tools are catalogued as GA*03210.01-.25.
Description
Watercolor drawing depicting the tools of the block cutter for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. II" with 25 numbered drawings of tools. The tools are catalogued as GA*03210.01-.25. This drawing was published in Tokuno essay on Japanese woodcutting and wood-cut printing, edited by S. R. Koehler for SI Annual Report for 1892. One of a series of drawings received about 1890 that later were used to lay out the Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1888-89
ID Number
GA.03209.02
accession number
22582
catalog number
03209.02
Watercolor drawing depicting the activities of the block printer for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. III" . Published in Tokuno essay on Japanese woodcutting and wood-cut printing, edited by S. R. Koehler for SI Annual Report for 1892.
Description
Watercolor drawing depicting the activities of the block printer for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. III" . Published in Tokuno essay on Japanese woodcutting and wood-cut printing, edited by S. R. Koehler for SI Annual Report for 1892. One of a series of drawings received about 1890 that later were used to model manikins and lay out the Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques. Printer shown seated with his furniture and tools.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1888-89
ID Number
GA.03209.03
accession number
22582
catalog number
03209.03
Watercolor drawing depicting the tools of the block printer for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. IV" with 17 numbered drawings of tools and furniture which are catalogued as GA*03211.01-.17.
Description
Watercolor drawing depicting the tools of the block printer for Japanese printmaking. Identified as "Fig. IV" with 17 numbered drawings of tools and furniture which are catalogued as GA*03211.01-.17. This drawing was published in Tokuno essay on Japanese woodcutting and wood-cut printing, edited by S. R. Koehler for SI Annual Report for 1892. One of a series of drawings received about 1890 that later were used to lay out the Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1888-89
ID Number
GA.03209.04
accession number
22582
catalog number
03209.04
Straightedge, steel, for cutting straight lines and for fixing registration marks on the blocks used in color printing. Woodblock-cutter's tool used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Straightedge, steel, for cutting straight lines and for fixing registration marks on the blocks used in color printing. Woodblock-cutter's tool used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 1 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter. Old paper label "No. 1"
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.01
accession number
22582
catalog number
3210.01
Wooden brush used for removing wood shavings during block cutting for Japanese printmaking. Bristles held in place by diagonal stitches. Fragment of paper label on handle.
Description
Wooden brush used for removing wood shavings during block cutting for Japanese printmaking. Bristles held in place by diagonal stitches. Fragment of paper label on handle. Woodblock-cutter's tool used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 2 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.02
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.02
Wooden handle for engraver's knife for cutting design in woodblock. Round, tapered, wooden handle only; cutting blade missing. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden handle for engraver's knife for cutting design in woodblock. Round, tapered, wooden handle only; cutting blade missing. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 3 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.03
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.03
Wooden handle with V-shaped chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden handle with V-shaped chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 4 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.04
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.04
Wooden handle with U-shaped chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden handle with U-shaped chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 5 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.05
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.05
Wooden handle with metal blade, flat, narrow chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s.
Description
Wooden handle with metal blade, flat, narrow chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 8 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.08
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.08
Wooden handle with tapered metal point, chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden handle with tapered metal point, chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 9 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.09
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.09
Wooden handle with metal blade beveled on one side, chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s.
Description
Wooden handle with metal blade beveled on one side, chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 10 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter. Residue of paper label with Japanese writing.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.10
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.10
Wooden handle with sharp metal point, chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden handle with sharp metal point, chisel for removing small bits of wood between the lines of the design of a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 11 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.11
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.11
Wooden handle with metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s.
Description
Wooden handle with metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 13 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.13
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.13
Wooden handle with metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s.
Description
Wooden handle with metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 14 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.14
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.14
Wooden handle with metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. Back of blade is beveled. Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock.
Description
Wooden handle with metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. Back of blade is beveled. Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 15 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.15
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.15
Wooden handle with semi-circular metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. (Ferrule is missing) Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock.
Description
Wooden handle with semi-circular metal blade held in place by metal ferrule at base. (Ferrule is missing) Chisel for removing wood between the lines of the design in a woodblock. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 17 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.17
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.17
Squarish block of dark stone used for leveling the surface of another stone (GA*03210.20) used to sharpen knives and chisels. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Squarish block of dark stone used for leveling the surface of another stone (GA*03210.20) used to sharpen knives and chisels. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 19 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
ID Number
GA.03210.19
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.19
Rectangle of light stone mounted on wooden rest. Used for smoothing the rough edges of knives and chisels after they have been sharpened on grind stone GA*03210.21.
Description
Rectangle of light stone mounted on wooden rest. Used for smoothing the rough edges of knives and chisels after they have been sharpened on grind stone GA*03210.21. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 20 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.20
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.20
Wooden mallet used to drive chisel into wood block to cut design for Japanese printmaking. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden mallet used to drive chisel into wood block to cut design for Japanese printmaking. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 24 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.24
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.24
Wooden mallet used to drive chisel into wood block to cut design for Japanese printmaking. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden mallet used to drive chisel into wood block to cut design for Japanese printmaking. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 25 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.25
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.25
Rectangle of light stone with slightly rough edgest. Used for sharpening knives and chisels. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Rectangle of light stone with slightly rough edgest. Used for sharpening knives and chisels. One of a group of woodblock-cutter's tools used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 21 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.Stone 21 was used for the first or rough stage of sharpening the tools according to Peter Morse's 1982 essay on Tokuno's description of Japanese woodcut technique edited by S. R. Koehler and published in the SI Annual Report for 1892.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.21
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.21
Wooden brush with very small bristles at one end. Used to brush sesame oil onto the block before cutting in Japanese printmaking. Woodblock-cutter's tool used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No.
Description
Wooden brush with very small bristles at one end. Used to brush sesame oil onto the block before cutting in Japanese printmaking. Woodblock-cutter's tool used in Graphic Arts exhibit of Japanese printmaking techniques from about 1890 to 1990s. Identified as No. 23 in watercolor drawing GA 03209.02 showing the tools of the block cutter.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03210.23
accession number
22582
catalog number
03210.23
Two-drawer wooden unit for holding printer's tools such as colors and color dishes for Japanese printmaking. The unit can be stored in the larger wooden unit GA.03211.01. See illustrations GA.03209.03-.04. Set of two.Currently not on view
Description
Two-drawer wooden unit for holding printer's tools such as colors and color dishes for Japanese printmaking. The unit can be stored in the larger wooden unit GA.03211.01. See illustrations GA.03209.03-.04. Set of two.
Location
Currently not on view
ID Number
GA.03211.03a
accession number
22582
catalog number
03211.03a

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