Japanese Antique Wood Printer's Block

Japanese Antique Printer’s Block | Moku Hanga | Hangi Printing | Edo Period



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: Block - 15-3/4”l x 11-3/4”w x 2-1/4”h; Stand - 8-1/2”l x 2-1/4”w x 2-1/4”h; Weight - 9lbs — Woodblock Print - Image; 15-3/4”l x 11-3/4”w; Archival Framing; 21-1/2”l x 17-1/2”w

The Japanese technique of woodblock printmaking is very different from the Western technique in that water-based ink is applied with a brush and, while being printed by hand, is pressed deeply into the absorbent Japanese paper. During the period that this wood plate was used, woodblock printmaking was done only in Buddhist monasteries, for the purpose of reproducing Buddhist texts and images, later also for books in which thousands of images were printed in Japan from the period about 1710-1875. The first prints were just black-and-white prints (sumizuri-e) and before the “kento”, were invented in the 18th century for multi-colored woodblocks referred to as brocade images (nishiki-e). Being offered is this original woodcut printing plate of Daruma,  originally from the Myouryuji Temple in Kanazawa, as well as the woodblock print made from the block, and represented a time when inner peace was of importance. As you can imagine this is a very rare woodblock for it was difficult to find wood of sufficient size to make blocks of even modest dimensions. This woodblock was cut from cherry wood or pear wood but because of black ink buildup, it is difficult to discern other than from the back. The back of the piece shows the locking block to hold the piece in place while hand printing.

A colleague and cultural history professor at Bunka Gakuen University, Tokyo introduced us to a friend who owned an antique gallery in Kanazawa when at a time you had to prove a sound interest in the subject in order to be admitted into the shop. The owner of a shop proudly introduced us to his private collection of antique religious woodblocks, and after some discussion showed us a woodcut, (that he dated) that he had printed from, and that he was willing to sell as a set, (see printers block and corresponding woodblock print).

Antique Condition: Both pieces in extremely good condition, commensurate with age and use. The block was carefully aged to prevent warping. The woodcut came with a hand-crafted stand for display. The woodblock has a contemporary frame and completed in 1985 to preserve the print.

NOTE: Woodcut is a relief printing technique in printmaking. The oldest form of printmaking, a woodcut is a relief process in which knives and other tools are used to carve a design into the surface of a wooden block. The wooden block is usually made from pear or cherry wood, which is cut along the “plank” so that the woodcutter was cutting along the grain of the wood and planed smooth. Printing is done by hand with ink applied to the humid block and transferred to handmade paper.