Ryobi Shahitsu - Elegant Brushstrokes Historically important hand drawn manuscript book by Hokusai
Ryobi Shahitsu (—Ç”üàr•M)
by Katsushika Hokusai. 1820.
46pp. (21 diptychs plus 2 single page illustrations). 24 x 17.8cm
In very good original condition. Some wear, stray marks and a tiny wormhole affecting a few pages.
This stunning book is not woodblock printed but hand drawn and therefore unique. It is believed that Hokusai drew these illustrations to help his students perfect their drawing skills. The title 'Ryobi Shahitsu' literally means, 'Good [i.e. well drawn], Beautiful, Brushstrokes' and supposedly he gave this manuscript to one of his students to copy. That is probably the reason that this manuscript has somehow survived. Apparently Hokusai was unable to get this book published by a Kyoto publisher (and both books were discovered in Kyoto) so it ended up being published by a Nagoya publisher. The book was soon after republished as 'Hokusai Soga' and this was probably the publisher's decision to rename it using the marketing power of Hokusai's name in the title. A woodblock printed copy of 'Ryobi Shahitsu', which is very rare itself, is included with the manuscript. Note the huge difference in colour and detail. The woodblock printed edition, also from 1820, was published in Nagoya and has 54pp (8 more pages than the manuscript). The illustrations also measure slightly larger than the manuscript book at 26.8 x 18cm and the paper size of the woodblock printed edition is larger as well. The publisher obviously decided to make the book larger and also add some extra illustrations. The order of images is slightly different as well. The final 7 pictures here show a comparison of the books' covers as well as some of the pages with slight differences in detail that the publisher would have requested. The 3 blue circles in the pictures here show 1) where the publisher added an item to fill up the page 2) the much thinner part of the wooden structure and 3) the straight grass (reed) that isn't blowing as it does in the manuscript. This again points to the logical conclusion that one of Hokusai's students was responsible for the woodblock printed images in 'Ryobi Shahitsu'. The striking difference in quality between the manuscript and the published woodblock printed edition is clear. This is a stunning find and would be a wonderful addition to any serious private or institutional collection.