Untitled series of beauties compared to the Five Elements

Publisher: Fujioka-ya Hikotarō

c. 1840

 

The Five Elements (gogyō, 五行) are wood (ki), fire (hi), earth (tsuchi), metal (kane) and water (mizu).  They do not represent the modern scientific concept of elements as fundamental substances out of which all things are composed.  Rather, they represent categories and concepts to which all things can be likened and by which analysed in a spiritual or philosophical manner.  This series is not listed in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).  The prints are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ōban.

 

Element: Wood (Ki, )

Description:

 

 

Element: Fire (Hi, ) Description: Beauty with a paper lantern   

 

 

Element: Earth (Tsuchi, )

Description: Standing beauty looking downward at shoots with butterflies

 

 

Another state of the above print

 

Yet another state of the above design printed entirely in blue and red

 

 

Element: Metal (Kin, )

Description: Fulling silk

 

 

A simplified and less labor intensive state of the above design

 

 

Element: Water (Mizu, )

Description: Beauty washing a textile

 

 

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