TAT That Art That Inspired 1000 Tattoos

Discussion in 'Vaginarium' started by Buttons, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. Buttons

    Buttons OT Supporter

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    UKIYO-E

    Just what does it take to inspire men, to move their spirits, to exalt their imagination, to make them attempt to exceed even excellence? If I coud answer that question, what more would any of us need to know? Is there even a question to answer at all? What lifts one man's spirit may be passed by without notice by another. One thing is for certain though: If something can inspire generation after generation over the centuries, without falling from grace, and cross continents, at first as a whisper and then as a roar, it must be very special indeed. Few would disagree that traditional Japanese tattooing is something special. But where does it originate and what are the roots of the imagery with which we are so familiar?

    The purpose of tattooing in Japanese society has varied over the years. The practice is known there as irezumi (literally, the insertion of ink) a term which originally referred to crude dot-work tattoos that were used both as a form of punishment and as a mark of dedication to each other on the hands of lovers. The artists who created the tattoos were known has horishi. This same title was used by the wood carvers who created the blocks from which prints were taken. It is probably that the woodblock artists were also some of the first tattooists. It is thought that they used the same tools and materials to put ink into skin as they did to carve wood -- chisels and black ink. From the word horishi we have the prefix hori (to carve) which came into use for Japanese tattoo masters in around 1800 and it still used today. The prefix is handed down from master to apprentice, along with a chosen name (e.g. Horiyoshi III chose the name Horikitsune for his apprentice, Alex Reinke.)

    The origins of the creative Japanese tattooing that we recognise today lie in Japan's Edo period, which spanned teh years from 1603 to 1868. During this time, which was one largely of freedom and peace, tattooing in Japane went from being an underground practice and one often associated with criminals, to being a recognised art form. Books featuring imagery of mythical beasts, ferocious animals and tattooed heroes became popular and those motifs were often translated onto skin.

    Things changed with the onset of the Meiji period (from 1868 to 1912) when the Japanese government outlawed tattooing, in a bid to make a good impression on the West. Tattooing continued, but was almost the sole preserve of the criminal classes and the Yakusa (the Japanese "mafia"). In the years since the Second World War, the art of irezumi has grown in popularity again, particularly in the West, ironically.

    Woodblock prints are known collectively as Ukiyo-e, which translates as "Images of the Floating World". The "world" referred to was a Buddhist concept of transient pleasure and freedom from the cares and concerns of the real world. The prints show many of the heroes and motifs popular in traditional Japanese tattooing. The prints here are original 19th century works and are part of the collection at the Japanese Gallery in London.

    Nestled in Camden Passage, Islington, the gallery is a virtually endless source of inspiration for the tattooist and collector. Whether you just have time to dip your toes in or fancy completely submerging yourself in Ukiyo-e, the rewards of going back to the source of this imagery are profound. Surrounded by the master's works, seeing them as they were viewed the day they came off press, is a thrill for any fan of the art of traditional Japanese tattooing. From the hand of the artist who created image, to the woodblock carver who chiselled the design into cherrywood and finally to the printer who imprinted the image onto mulberry paper that sometimes took three months to make, these truly are works of art and labours of love.

    The Japanese Gallery has tens of thousands of original Ukiyo-e prints, which have been collected and archived by two generations of the Wertheim family. Oldlest son David is now the curator of this, proudly hosting on of the largest collections of Ukiyo-e in the world, housed in three locations in Islington, Kensington and Japan. They range from prints which are available to buy from as little as 10# to top quality museum pieces. A small selection of 400 or sos prints is available on their website. If you are planning a visit, to the Gallery, check the map and directions on the website as the gallery is a little tucked away!

    Half-Japanese and half-English, David has one foot in each culture and his appreciation of both has taken the gallery to new heights. Visitors to the 2006 London Tattoo Convention may recall the stunning exhibition of Ukiyo-e imagery that the Gallery staged there. David kindly gave Total Tattoo exclusive permissio to reproduce the images you see here. We can hardly do them justice however as, in real life, most are many times larger and considerably more magnificent.

    CLIFFS: Read it :fawk:

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    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  2. eelliiss

    eelliiss Active Member

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    The best one so far. :h5:
     
  3. SmokeDog420

    SmokeDog420 New Member

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    Did you write that? Nice bit of info man!


    and nice cliffs..
     
  4. Buttons

    Buttons OT Supporter

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    No. I've been posting articles/stories/interviews once or twice a week just for Body Mods crew to read and learn about some of the culture and the old ways.
     
  5. BillyJackNCoke

    BillyJackNCoke I've got something to say, I raped your mother tod

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    I'm a little late, but that was a great read! I love these stories you've been posting
     
  6. Memor

    Memor Active Member

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    great post ABizzle
     

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