Recovering a Shuttlecock: A New Year's Scene

Accession Number

Recovering a Shuttlecock: A New Year's Scene

Utagawa Toyokuni I

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
mid 1780

Medium & Support
pillar-format full-color woodblock print (nishiki e) on paper, pillar-format (hashira e)

26 7/16 in. x 4 1/2 in. ( 67.2 cm x 11.4 cm )

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
The pillar print format challenged artists to make effective use of its long and narrow shape. Toyokuni solves the problem by cleverly contriving a situation that allows him to stack figures vertically: a young man hoists a girl into air, so that she can retrieve a shuttlecock that has stuck in the branches of a pine tree. Battledore and Shuttlecock is a New Year’s game, and Toyokuni makes this print especially auspicious by including the "three friends of winter"—pine, bamboo, and, in the kimono patterns, blossoming plum. This favorite trio of plants combines the symbols for longevity, prudence, and resilience.
If pillar prints survive at all, they are normally in very poor condition, with the paper burned to a dark brown and the colors faded, from long exposure to light and air. The condition of this print is surprisingly good; despite considerable darkening of the paper, the blue and purple dyes of the man’s kimono are still quite evident.
M. Graybill
"Courtesans, Cross-Dressers, and the Girl Next Door Images of the Feminine in Japanese Popular Prints"
3/9 - 9/1/02

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
color print

Collection Area

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historical figures

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted