Illustration of a Sawyer, 1915

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IHL Cat. #2067

Illustration of a Sawyer, 1915

Kobiki no zu 木挽の図

Anamorphosis picture appearing in the July 1915 issue of the magazine 浮世絵 Ukiyo-e

unknown artist

sheet: 7 1/2 x 10 1/4 in. (19.1 x 26 cm)


This print is a 1915 woodblock reproduction of a likely Edo-period anamorphosis print, known as a "scabbard print" 鞘繪 (saya-e) in Japanese, picturing a sawyer pulling a saw. This reproduction appeared in the July 1915 issue of 浮世絵 "Ukiyo-e" magazine, accompanied by an article discussing saya-e. (Click on the below photo to see the article.)

The text appearing next to the circle and dashed line in the bottom of the print reads ?所へ鞘をあてて見るべし, telling the viewer to look at the print's reflection in a scabbard. The circle and the hashed line mark where the scabbard (or any reflective cylinder) should be placed and the line of viewing.

Anamorphosis pictures were called saya-eさや絵 or kyōchū zu 鏡中図. When the distorted picture is reflected on a curved surface, such as that of a sword case (saya), it can be seen in its true proportions. Saya-e were a new type of pictorial representation that first appeared in Japan in the eighteenth century as anamorphosis pictures arrived in Japan from Europe (likely from the Dutch) and interest grew in acquiring new knowledge about optics and perspective from the West. 

click on image to enlarge

The print and article as they appear in the July 1915 issue of the magazine "Ukiyoe"  

Illustration of a Sawyer #2067