Genre: pillar prints (hashira-e - 柱絵)

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Roger Keyes suggested that "...the tall narrow format forces the viewer to ask what exists outside the frame of a pillar print in both a temporal and spacial sense. The hashira-e format constructs a view that is voyeuristic - we look in on the intimate moments in the lives of others. Perhaps a more pertinent question is whether hashira-e elicit in the viewer's mind a narrative of a very personal sort. Do hashira-e evoke the dreams, aspirations and desires of the viewer? Do they bridge the gap between seeing and desire, between voyeurism and vicarious experience? Do they evoke memories?" Quoted from: The Prints of Isoda Koryūsai: Floating World Culture and its Consumers in Eighteenth-century Japan by Allen Hockley, p. 160.


Keyes also wrote elsewhere:

"The large hand-colored kakemono-e of the 1740s were printed on single sheets of paper, but many were engraved on blocks that fitted together from two pieces of wood. In the course of time, the two pieces tended to warp and separate, and later impressions of many of these prints show a noticeable split along one side of the block. Perhaps to avoid an unsightly break some impressions were printed on narrower sheets of paper from the larger portion of the wood. These prints led to a genre of even narrower prints called hashira-e, or pillar pictures. They were sold in paper mounts as hand-scrolls and were hung on the narrow support posts on the walls of rooms in houses. Harunobu and a follower both designed prints of women holding mounted pillar prints in their hands, and Harunobu designed one picture of a pillar print in place on a wall.

Jacob Pins has pointed out that the early pillar prints were printed on a single sheet of paper, but that from the 1790s on they were printed on two sheets joined around the middle.The vogue for pillar prints diminished in the early nineteenth century. Large vertical prints were still published, but they were formed by joining two or sometimes three full-sized ōban sheets vertically..."

Quoted from: Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Catalogue of the Mary A. Ainsworth Collection by Roger Keyes, p.100.