FAQ: What kinds of poetry was used for ukiyo-e?
Poems are found in a variety of forms on ukiyo-e prints. Among the most commonly encountered are those featured on 'surimono' —
privately commissioned and distributed prints. One such image is shown on the right, designed by Yanagawa Shigenobu II, circa early
1830s, from a series of eight prints titled Hana awase ("Comparison of flowers"). They were sponsored by the poetry
group Shakuyakugawa ren, a circle of poets headed by Shakuyakutei Nagane (1767-1845), the most influential kyôka ("playful
verse") master in Edo during the 1830s.
This particular print is titled Takane no hana ("Flower at an inaccessible height"). Both the series and print titles use
the ideogram hana ("flower") as a conventional euphemism for "beautiful woman," and thus "inaccessible
height" would suggest an incomparable beauty.
For a discussion of poems on surimono and other types of verses found in ukiyo-e, please refer to the following links:
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