Volume 40 – Number 3
Ming Erotic Colour Prints from the Muban Foundation -
The Shibui Collection
Detail of an illustration from Sheng penglai (Supra Paradise)
Late Ming period, first half of the 17th century
Woodblock colour print
Height 26 cm, width 18 cm
Muban Foundation, London (A.25)
Both as subject and as object, the colour-printed books that are our focus in this issue present challenges to current thinking about the erotic and the print, two relatively marginalized areas in the study of Chinese visual and social history.
As demonstrated by our contributors, the Muban Foundation's acquisitions of Japanese collector Shibui Kiyoshi's cache of late Ming erotic books, once thought lost, will offer opportunities for scholarship. Christer von der Burg, Sören Edgren, Wang Chao and Song Pingsheng discuss the bibliographic significant and technical advancements of these tomes. Craig Clunas and James Cahill offer different perspectives on positioning the erotic. While ukiyo-e prints are more widely known, Sebastian Izzard and Hiromitsu Kobayashi reveal how the Japanese were inspired by their Chinese predecessors. As seen in the work of Wilson Shieh, the subject of this month's interview, the erotic and the culture of print continue to provide artistic inspiration.
In this month's commentary, Yoko Hsueh Shirai traces the trajectory of a Buddhist statue in Japan, from a lost collection in the countryside to the auction rooms of New York.