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Between and Mortarboard


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Camel

Accession Number
1969/2.91

Title
Camel

Artist(s)
Utagawa Kuniyasu

Object Creation Date
circa 1824?

Medium & Support
color woodblock print on paper

Dimensions
14 15/16 in. x 10 1/4 in. ( 38 cm x 26 cm )

Credit Line
Museum purchase for the Paul Leroy Grigaut Memorial Collection

Label copy
During the Edo Period, Japan was secluded from diplomatic and trade relationships with other countries, with the exceptions of Korea, China, and the Netherlands. The man-made island of Deshima in Nagasaki bay (in the southwestern part of Japan, Kyûshû Island,) was the only port open for foreign contact. A type of woodblock print called Nagasaki-e became widely popular, depicting the foreign traders and exotic animals that came through the Deshima port.
In 1821, the Dutch brought a pair of female and male Arabian camels to Japan, and they were a huge sensation, eventually touring to major cities including Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Popular novelist Santôan Kyôzan detailed the animals’ physiognomy, diet, origins, and habitat to satisfy people’s curiosity. In this print, artist Utagawa Kuniyasu depicted the camels and entertainers who accompanied the show.
(Japanese Gallery Rotation, Spring 2009)

Subject matter
This double-leaf print depicts two camels and accompanying foreign trainers or performers in fringed clothing, with ballooning pants and dark boots. They may be from Portugal, Central Asia, or China, and have come with the pair of Arabia camels on a tour of Japan beginning in 1821, stopping in Osaka, Kyoto, and Edo, where Utagawa resided.
Some of the performers play instruments, while others tend to the camels. Above both pages is writing by calligrapher Santô Kyôden describing the camels and their trip. Exotic animal and foreigner prints such as these are typical of Nagasaki-e, depictions of trade and goods from foreign lands that came through the port of Deshima in Nagasaki Bay during the National Seclusion Policy (1639-1854).

Physical Description
This double-leaf print depicts two camels and accompanying foreign trainers or performers in fringed clothing, with ballooning pants and dark boots. Some of the performers play instruments, while others tend to the camels. Above both pages is writing by calligrapher Santô Kyôden describing the camels and their tour of Japan around 1821.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Primary Object Type
color print

Additional Object Classification(s)
schools of Japanese paintings and prints

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Ukiyo-e

5 Related Resources

Clowns
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)
Supernatural in Japanese Art
(Part of: History 195:004 Dragons and Snow Monkeys)

& Author Notes

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