A collection of 118 printed broadsides, ranging from 308 x 450 mm. to 156 x 95 mm., produced as notices by various kyoka poetry societies, all carefully bound in one orihon silk-covered album. Upper cover title-slip: "Dai surichirashi shuran" [trans.: "Various broadsides & sheets collected & pasted in an album"]
by KYOKA POETRY SOCIETIES
An important and remarkable survival. "In general, the chonin, the bourgeois citizens of Edo and Osaka particularly, enjoyed literature that was light and entertaining: stories of love and intrigue, often with fantastic or occult elements; and verse that was very much on the surface, relying greatly for its appeal on word-plays that the nature of the language, with it innumerable homophones, encourages...from the beginning of the Temmei period in 1781, kyoka verse became a major leisure activity of the chonin and of some samurai... "The Temmei vogue for kyoka - literally, 'crazy verses' -was a revival. The form had originated as early as the fourteenth century and had had its first flowering in the seventeenth...But the revival in the Temmei period led to a phenomenon, a positive craze for amateur verse-writing, on a scale more widespread than is known in any other nation at any time. It became a cult, with rival factions, or societies, each headed by high priests who were teachers and adjudicators of frequent competitions."-Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 372. Many of the leading Ukiyo-e artists were involved with kyoka from the very beginning, including Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Hokkei, and Hiroshige. This unique collection of broadsides and handbills issued by many of the kyoka societies demonstrates the intense activity which took place nationwide. These broadsides are, by their nature, extremely ephemeral, and our collection offers a unique window into this world of amateur poetry writing in late Edo Japan. The many types of broadsides were issued for different reasons: announcements of forthcoming publications and meetings, names of the judges and editors, themes of kyoka (flowers, Spring, Summer, the turning of maple leaves in the Fall, snowy days, etc.), mentioning how a "superstar" of kyoka will write verse for an individual club, lists of those chosen as participants in competitions, names of the individual clubs and societies, announcements of the artists and calligraphers participating in publications of kyoka, requests for submissions and dates when submissions will be selected, cities in which the competitions will be held, pen-names or nicknames of the contributors (all witty), rewards of silver for the best submissions, announcements of recently deceased kyoka writers and appeals for written contributions to their memorial volumes, etc., etc. The broadsides also include banzuke (rankings of the poets, almost like batting averages in baseball). Many of the broadsides contain color-printed illustrations, backgrounds, or borders. In fine and fresh condition. Some of the broadsides are somewhat wormed. Preserved in a chitsu.
(Inventory #: 6225)
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