Chain Lines (Orientation on Standard Papers)
Typical ukiyoe print sizes were sheets cut from larger standard handmade papers (there were at least 4 standard uncut sizes in
regular use during the Edo period). If we use approximate sizes in inches, an uncut standard sheet used to make ôbansize
("largeprint") and chûbansize ("medium print") sheets was approximately 20" x 15". When
cut in half parallel to the smaller 15" dimension, the sheet would yield 2 ôban sheets (10" x 15"). Depending
on the orientation of the printed design, you would have vertical chain lines for ôban tatee (vertical or "upright"
ôban prints) or horizontal chain lines for ôban yokoe (horizontal ôban prints).
Chûban sheets were ôban sheets cut in half parallel to the remaining longer (10") dimension, so they measure
approximately 10" x 7.5." As with ôban sheets, the direction of the chain lines depends on the orientation of the
design. On the cut chûban sheets, the chain line orientations would be the reverse of the ôbansheet orientations, that is,
horizontal in relation to a chûban vertical (tatee) design, and vertical in the much less commonly encountered chûbanhorizontal (yokoe) design.
Other print formats were cut from three alternate types of standard sheets, so a summary of the most familiar print formats derived
from these four standard sheets is given below. Note that the koban size ("small print") refers to formats cuts as fractions
of at least three of the standard sheets and so varied in its actual dimensions. As handmade Japanese papers varied in actual size and
amount of trimming, all sizes are approximate. For the purposes of simplifying this summary, the smaller sizes are consistent divisible
fractions of corresponding larger sizes.

Standard Sheet (20" x 15"): Yields 2 ôban sheets (10 x 15), 4 chûban sheets (10 x 7.5), or 8 koban(small) sheets (7.5 x 5); also 4 chûtanzaku (5 x 15) if cut along the other dimension

Smaller standard sheet (12.5" x 18"): Yields 2 aiban (12.5 x 9), 3 hosoban sheets (12.5 x 6), 4 chûban sheets
(6.25 x 9), or 8 koban (small) sheets (6.25 x 4.5); also 2 nagaban sheets (6.25 x 18) if cut along the other dimension

Standard hosho sheet (16" x 22"): Yields 2 large surimono (8 x 22), 6 square surimono (shishikiban) sheets
(8 x 7.33), or 4 chûban sheets (8 x 11)

Standard large sheet (15" x 27.5"): Yields 3 hashirae (pillar print) sheets (5 x 27.5)
In addition, there were some joined sheet formats, such as the large kakemonoe (vertical hanging scroll print), which was formed
from 11/3 smaller standard sheets (12.5 x 24). There were, as well, occasional nonstandard format sheets cut from various larger sheets. ©19992001 by John Fiorillo
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Keyes, R.: The Male Journey in Japanese Prints. University of California Press, 1989, p. XXX ("Paper Formats").
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