Eight Views of Ryukyu: Bamboo Grove at Beison
By Katsushika Hokusai
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Medium: woodcut/woodblock/ukiyo-e, woodblock
Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 24.5 by 37.1 cm
Price: $14000 (excl. taxes)
signed zen Hokusai Iitsu hitsu, with publisher's marks of Eijudo (Nishimura Yohachi) and Kinshindo (Moriya Jihei), and stamped Collection Matsumoto on verso, ca. 1833
oban yoko-e 9 5/8 by 14 5/8 in., 24.5 by 37.1 cm
The Ryukyu Islands, a chain of islands stretching southwest from the Japanese island of Kyushu to approximately 75 miles from the island of Taiwan. The Ryukyu kingdom was semi-autonomous, paying tribute to both the Chinese and Japanese. In 1372 the kingdom became a tributary state of the Ming court, and then in 1609 the daimyo of Satsuma invaded and imposed tributary payments as well. In 1832 an ambassador from Ryukyu visited Edo with some 200 Ryukyuans, stimulating new interest in the foreign islands. Hokusai had never visited the remote islands, but he certainly made use of a book on the subject, Ryukyu kokushiryuaku, a Japanese adaption of a Chinese book published by Shuko in 1757. Hokusai's compositions are largely based on illustrations from the book, he even kept the same titles for each of the views.
This relatively scarce series was initially published by Eijudo and later taken over by Moriya Jihei.