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  Poetry on Printed Art Blog  
  Some contemporary Japanese printmakers add poetry to their artwork. Combining poetry and art is useful because the addition of words simplifies the art viewer’s often difficult task of understanding a picture’s message. Two examples of these contemporary poem-prints, chosen from the Reader Collection of Japanese Flower-and-Bird Art, appear below.  
  Contemporary Poetry  
  Adding poetry to prints has a long history in Japan. In the 1830s two of Japan's most famous printmakers (i.e., Hiroshige Utagawa and Hokusai Katsushika) included poetry on many of their flower-and-bird prints. A poem-print made by each of these two artists is shown below.  

Ukiyoe Poetry

  Between the early 1700s and mid-1800s composing and reading poetry were popular cultural activities in Japan. Published poems were often accompanied by pictures drawn by artists to further enhance the poems' mood or theme. The Japanese name for these poem-prints is surimono 摺物 (i.e., printed thing). A surimono usually included more than one poem, unlike later poem-prints which typically had only one poem. The surimono shown below has three poems, each written by a different person.  
  Poetry Surimono  

To see more poem-prints from the Reader Collection click here.


Additional Reading

Bogel, Cynthia J., Goldman, Israel and Marks, Alfred H. 1988. Hiroshige Birds and Flowers. George Braziller, Inc., New York.
Rappard-Boon, Charlotte van. 2000. Surimono, Poetry and Image in Japanese Prints. Hotei Publishing, Leiden.


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