Japanese Flower Cards – Two Hand-Coloured Woodblock Prints, October Maple & Deer

Two beautiful hand-coloured woodblock prints.

This is a very attractive pair of small Japanese hand-coloured woodblock prints relating to the month of October. They feature the Japanese motifs typically associated with this month: Maple & Deer.

The details are printed using woodblock technique then hand-coloured in watercolour in a striking and distinctive colour palette. On paper and laid down on individual cards, the pictures could be mounted very attractively in the effect of a small frieze.

In good condition.
Each measures: 7.5cm x 4.7cm.

These pictures form part of a collection of special edition “karuta” or Japanese playing cards, or more specifically Hanafuda, or “flower cards”. They make up part of a collection called “Sôridaijin no Hana-karuta” (Prime Minister's Flower cards).

Playing cards were introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders in the mid-16th century, and became an opportunity for artists to decorate small cards with beautiful illustrations incorporating traditional Japanese iconography. Hanafuda, or “flower cards” originated from the early 19th century. Hanafuda cards are better made both in form and in design than regular playing cards, and can be said to be the finest playing cards created in Japan. The card designs were grouped into twelve sets of cards relating to each month of the year and decorated with flora and fauna associated with that month.

Known as “Sôridaijin no Hana-karuta” (Prime Minister's Flower cards), this these pictures are part of a replica of an original set dating from the Meiji era, which the first Japanese Prime Minister, Itô Hirofumi (1841-1909), had specially commissioned. The Prime Minister had a love of Japanese figurative art, and in particular flower illustrations, and these pictures were created in honour of their special client.


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