Posted by Dan (188.8.131.52) on September 21, 2004 at 15:15:01:
In Reply to: Re: Original Formats of Ukiyo-e posted by Noel Chiappa on September 20, 2004 at 23:33:20:
Hanging paintings in the alcove, or tokonoma, was the standard practice for decoration in well-to-do homes and tea houses from before the Tokugawa Period. In the Edo Period, most commoners' houses lacked space for a tokonoma (which is a recessed space flanked by twin pillars) so they used the central pillar alone instead, it being the next closest thing. Hashira-e were thus made to take the place of the exalted painting hanging in the alcove. The explanation you recall is right in that the narrow format of the hashira-e was designed for these pillars, though its discovery seems to have been more by accident than intention.
My first point in the last post was to say that because hashira-e were made as replacements for the alcove painting (Akai's argument is that woodblock prints were "painting replacements" for common people, made to take the place of the more expensive alcove painting) it is logical that they (but not ukiyo-e prints in general) would receive a mounting.
While I'm not sure exactly which prints Arnold was referring to, his post brought to mind a few Harunobu and Koryusai pieces that show works by ukiyo-e printmakers hanging mounted in alcoves, which would be a very exalted (and somewhat fanciful I suspect) position for such work. My suspicion is that this was marketing, not a reflection of reality (wealthier people hanging ukiyo-e in their tokonoma). Ukiyo-e is always a mixture of fantasy and reality, so it's not always possible to use prints as historical evidence or direct reflections of material life.
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