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The Thief and the Cock from the series Aesop Fables in Pictures

Shadow No. 12

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

The Thief and the Cock

from the series Aesop Fables in Pictures

by Hagiwara Hideo, 1976

Asagiri noyaki (Morning Mist, Burning Fields) from the series Thirty-six Fujis


IHL Cat. #2555

About This Print

Print number thirty in the series illustrating fifty of Aesop's Fables. The fables, written and compiled by the Athenian slave Aesop in the fifth century BCE, have been described as tales simple enough for children and profound enough for adults.

This print illustrates the fable in which a cock stolen by thieves pleads for its life by saying how useful he is to man by waking him each morning.  Unfortunately for the cock, this gave the thieves an even better reason to kill it, teaching us that the safeguards of virtue are hateful to those with evil intentions.

The Series "Aesop Fables"

Hagiwara, who had been familiar with Aesop's stories since he was a child, published the "Aesop Fables in Pictures" イソップ絵噺 series in 1976. The series, which took 20 years from conception to completion, was created using his intaglio techniques in woodblock carving, which allow for the expression of softer, freer lines that could not be achieved with conventional woodblock carving with chisels.

The below quote from Hagiwara, appearing in the book Bi no henro (Pigrimage of Beauty), speaks of his remembrances of the Fables from early childhood and his assimilation of the stories into his being and his  directing these caricatures of the fables to adults.1
 
「イソップという呼び名。このやさしく、親しいひびきをもった名前を、私が知ったのは、いくつの頃であったろう。思い出そうと、つとめてみても、まったく徒労に終わってしまう。生まれたときから一緒であり、子供の頃から、今日まで、私の体内に同化しているようにさえ思えるのである。(中略)これらの寓話の主役は、鳥獣類の小動物であり、われわれの祖先の頃から、親しい関係にあったもばかりである。可愛らしい役者たちが演ずる風刺劇は、人間の生き様を、あれやこれやと語ってくれる。一つ一つが、人間社会の縮図であり、戯画を見るようである。(中略)これは、私の鳥獣戯画であり、大人に捧げる絵本でもある。」

1 美の遍路 Bi no henro (Pilgrimage of Beauty), Hagiwara Hideo, Nihon Hōsō Shuppan Kyōkai, 1996, p. 73.

The Complete Series/Portfolio of Prints

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Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2555
 Title or Description 泥棒たちと雄鶏 Dorobū tachi to ondori
The Thief and the Cock
 Series イソップ絵噺 Aesop's Fables in Pictures
 Artist
 Hagiwara Hideo (1913 - 2007)
 Signature
hideo hagiwara - pencil signed by artist in English in lower left margin
 Seal
 Publication Date 1976
 Edition 6/50
 Publisher self-published
 Carver self-carved
 Printer self-printed
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous 
 Format 
 H x W Paper 13 1/16  x 14 15/16 in.  (33.2 x 35.6  cm)
 H x W Image 7 9/16 x 9 1/2 in. (19.2 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature 
latest revision:
8/12/2021 created
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