Digging Kudzu [Pueraria] Root in Yamato Province from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Digging Kudzu [Pueraria] Root in Yamato Province

from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue

(Products of Greater Japan)

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1877

Producing Uji Tea in Yamashiro Province, figure 2 from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)


IHL Cat. #1480

About This Print


One of 118 prints in the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)issued in August 1877 to coincide with the opening of Japan’s first National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyō Hakurankai) held in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, depicting the harvesting of kudzu (Japanese arrowroot or pueraria) root its being processed into powder.  Yamato Province (大和国,Yamato no Kuni) was a province of Japan, located in Kinai, corresponding to present-day Nara Prefecture in Honshū.1

"Young shoots from this abundant plant (see bulbous plants) are boiled in an iron kettle in pieces 1 m. long, and then submitted to longer soaking in running water, till their bast becomes loose, when it is stripped off by hand. To bleach, soften, and divide its fibres, it is pounded and treated with water, and otherwise manipulated. When finished, the fibres are tolerably firm and white, like hemp-bast. They are used for the woof of several kinds of cloth, but only to a very limited extent."2

The artist based many of his designs on the designs that appeared in the 1799 book Nihon Sankai Meisan Zue (Famous Sea and Land Products in Japan), leaving some question whether everything Hiroshige III portrayed in the series was truly the "state of the art" in 1877 when the series was issued. (Although for many activities pictured, things would have looked much the same in 1877 as in 1799.) In many cases, the information in the scroll is also copied from the earlier work.


click on image to enlarge
吉野葛 Yoshino kudzu
Illustration of harvesting and processing kudzu in Yoshino* from Nihon Sankai Meisan Zue (Famous Sea and Land Products in Japan), 1799

* Yoshino was part of Yamato Province

Multiple Editions (Variant Printings)

At least three variant printings (editions) were made of this series.  Each variant printing uses a different colored cartouche, either red, green or rainbow-colored.  Different colored borders were also used and variances in the use of colors and shading are present in the three editions.


2 The Industries of Japan: Together with an Account of its Agriculture, Forestry, Arts and Commerce, Johannes Justus Rein, A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1889, p. 169.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #1480
 Title or Description  Digging Kudzu [Pueraria] Root in Yamato Province
 大和国葛根堀図  Yamato no kuni kakkon hori zu
 Series
 Dai Nippon Bussan Zue 大日本物産図会 (Products of Greater Japan)
 Artist  Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
 Signature
 廣重筆 Hiroshige hitsu in bottom right margin (trimmed on this print)
 Seal  none
 Publication Date  1877 (Meiji 10) 
 Publisher
 Ōkura Magobei 大倉孫兵衛 (Kin'eido; 1843-1921) [Marks: pub. ref. 627]
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - vertical centerfold reinforced by tape on verso; thinning to lower right margin
 Genre  nishiki-e; kaika-e
 Miscellaneous   
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper 
 6 13/16 x 9 3/8 in. (17.1 x 24.9 cm)
 H x W Image
 6 3/8 x 9 in.  (16.2 x 22.9 cm)
 Literature 

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library Archives 01_04265_0001
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