Today we’ll take a closer look at a dazzling set of Kuniyoshi prints that endorse his mastery and display some exquisite printing techniques. The title of the series is ‘Shikido 18 kajo‘ and the book series was published in 1853.
Striking about these shunga designs is the absence of the additional Japanese text and the emphasis on the human body. They really dominate the image and give it a compelling force.
Kuniyoshi experimented with this before in his earlier masterpiece ‘Edo Brocades, Eastern Library‘(c.1837) and both sets belong to his best work in shunga.
Beautifully composed design (Fig.1.) in which Kuniyoshi uses the power of the diagonal lines by placing the blanket from right above the image plane to left under. The textiles are used to deliberately frame the genitalia. The falling cat is a favorite detail by Kuniyoshi who was an avid cat lover.
This great Kuniyoshi print (Fig.2.) combines two rarely added sub-themes. One is the anal component with the woman clearly complying to the man’s request by allowing anal penetration. The second theme is ‘shunga within shunga‘ with the shungabook lying in front of the woman for inspirational purposes.
A fascinating image (Fig.3.) of two heterosexual lovers who perform mutual oral sex on each other. A comical detail is the vaginal fluid dripping down the male’s cheek. The printer added wonderful karazuri (gauffrage) details to the blue kimono of the man), urushi-e (black lacquer) and various metallic pigments.
The portrayal of a couple having a simultaneous orgasm (Fig.4.). The naked female body is centered exactly in the middle of the image and immediately attracts the viewer’s attention. She seems to mimic the same body position as the sleeping cat in the background.
More erotic Kuniyoshi prints from this series:
You can see more images of this series by clicking here: Kuniyoshi prints