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Tattoos of the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Motifs in the Japanese Tattoo Paperback – March, 2003
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The first half of this excellent work explores the early history of the Floating World (as pleasure districts were known as Japan's Edo period), focusing on the "triumvirate of arts": ukiyo-e (wood block prints), irezumi (tattoos), and kabuki theatre. Ukiyo-e and irezumi are so closely intertwined that tattoos of the day were referred to as horimono (carved object) in deference to the process of carving a wood block print. Kabuki was the theatre of the people and expressed not only the history and mythology of Japan, but the people's innermost desires as well. Kitamura's exploration of the ways in which these three arts intertwined demonstrates his love of the topic and inspires a similar affection in the reader.
The latter half of Tattoos Of The Floating World details many of the themes so strongly connected with Japanese Tattoo today. Sections devoted to such heroes as Fudo Myoo, Fujin and Raijin, Kumonryu Shishin, and Tennin give a basic understanding of their characters themselves and their endurance as tattoo motifs. Details are also provided on such traditional images as dragons, koi, shunga, falcons, the Kurikaraken, tigers and the phoenix.Read more ›
In this slender volume, Kitamura's primary focus is the linkage of the woodblock printing tradition of the Edo period (1615-1868) to the development of the tattoo as art. With such a focus, afficionados of the print artists Kuniyoshi, Kunisada, and Kunichika will find many illustrations to delight them, and there are as well photographs of the current artistry being worked by tattoo masters. Adding to the value of the book are a preface written by Donald Richie and an afterword by Don Ed Hardy. The first essay is elegiac and lyrical in tone; the second provides personal insights by a Western connoisseur of the tattoo art form.
The shortcomings of "Tattoos of the Floating World" concern what is not included. The book would have benefitted greatly from having an index as well as a more generously-executed glossary. Moreover, I regret that Kitamura, who as a tattoo artist is uniquely qualified to do so, did not more systematically and fully catalogue and explain the symbolism of Japanese tattoos.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i expected more from this one, but over all it's not so bad, another book about horiyoshi IIIPublished on August 19, 2009 by Mik
an exquisite melange of visual treats. good coffee table book or weapon for late night house burglary attempts. Read morePublished on May 22, 2009 by East Bay Dave