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|Author :||[MORONOBU/SUKENOBU SCHOOL].|
|Title :||AMANJAKU DEN: A PERVERSE EROTIC JAPANESE LEGEND. [A Bizzare and Unusual Erotic Japanese Woodcut Book] [Chinese Title: TIAN XIE GUI YUN]|
|Description of Contents...|
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. A VERY RARE AND BIZZARE EROTIC BOOK
. AN UNRECORDED PERVERSE & EROTIC STORY
. UNSIGNED, CLEARLY THE WORK OF A FAMOUS ARTIST
A unique and hitherto unfound odd and most unusual erotic
book of the early-mid-18th century. One of the most bizarre
erotic books ever done in Japan.
The graphically explicit work portrays men and women with
genitals on their foreheads, engaged in heterosexual and
homosexual intercourse. There is no other book with such
unusual and strange illustrations.
THE TITLE: THE LEGEND OF AMANJAKU or AMAN NO JAKU:
[Chinese Title: TIAN XIE GUI YUN]
THE MEANING OF AMANJAKU:
Japanese Buddhist literature is abundant with variations on
the theme of "Aman-No- Jaku," aka. "Amanjaku," "Manojaku,"
commonly understood to be a "Heavenly Evil Spirit."
This spirit or demon-like creature in Japanese folklore is
usually depicted as being a male during the day and female
at night. The demon is usually depicted as a kind of small
Oni [devil], and is thought to be able to provoke a person's
darkest desires and instigate him into perpetrating wicked
Amanjaku is also depicted in Chinese and Japanese mythology,
the AMANOJAKU is a changeling, a water spirit that
infiltrates the human world to play cruel tricks on people,
by reading their minds and twisting their requests or
desires to be used against them.
The "AMANOJAKU" is also known the "Lord of the River" and in
Japan serves Bishamonten, one of the four Deva kings of
Buddhism as a minor demon.
See Wikipedia below.
In Japanese, the term "Amanojaku" also refers to a person
who is deliberately contradictory, someone who argues for
the sake of arguing, or can be used in common Japanese
conversation to refer to someone who is a "Perverted Demon."
THE ILLUSTRATIONS: THE BUDDHIST THEME:.
This work is unusual in that the genitals of common people
are located on their foreheads. A symbolist meaning can be
in Buddhist concept, that sex and sexual hedonism is openly
on the minds of 'lay' people. The Buddha and his disciples
on the other hand do not have sex organs on their foreheads,
meaning their organs are covered and in a different [usual]
location. This can symbolize 'self control' over such
biological energies. Devout Buddhist disregard sex as a
pleasurable pastime, and devote themselves to monastic
focus. By contrast, "lay" people are distracted with
hedonistic pleasure, a path away from, rather than towards
the Dharma, or teachings of Buddhism.
In a sense, this work illustrates the overwhelming force of
evil, or the "Amanojaku" and how it distracts people from
the "Righteous Path" towards the Dharma, and the ultimate
goal of attaining Nirvana. It can be posited, that this work
is designed to give understanding to "lay" people by way of
visual example of what forces direct their energies away
from the Buddhist teachings, in an effort to redirect them
towards the "Righteous Path" and life style.
EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, UNQUE WORK:
The work is exceptionally RARE, unusual and erotic, there
are no other example showing genitals on the foreheads of
any other Japanese book cited anywhere in the bibliographic
literature, or record.
This work is certainly RARE in subject, content and
quantity. Though it was woodblock printed, and unsigned
which was usual for Japanese erotic works which were banned
by the Shogun, we have not found anything similar or
recorded anywhere in the bibliography. Being woodblock
printed one assumes there are other copies in existence. The
average printing from woodblocks were somewhere between
100-200 copies. However in this instance, no others exist.
We have the strong feeling, the book could have been the
production of a famous Japanese illustrator, and perhaps
financed by a Buddhist temple, again there are no known
facts about this rarity.
THE EROTIC ILLUSTRATIONS
This work begins showing the Buddha flanked by two of his
disciple monks. The title is written in four Japanese
[Kambun] & Chinese characters. The Buddha and his two
disciples listen to two elderly Buddhist believers: one is a
male, he has and erect penis on his forehead. The other is a
woman, she has a vagina on her forehead. Neither the Buddha,
nor his two disciples monks show genitals on their
foreheads. The couple have come to consult with the Buddha
about their grievances.
Shows a man and a woman in a Tatami matted room, both wear
lovely 18th century decorated Kimono. They embrace each
other, and are engaged in making love from their foreheads,
which show an erect penis and testicles, inserted into the
woman's forehead where her vagina is located. Adjacent to
the young couple is an older woman, who has become aroused
by the adjacent couple's making love. The old woman uses a
dildoe tied to a post which she hugs while inserting the
dildoe into the vagina on her forehead.
Shows a couple laying on a blanket, their Kimono pulled down
and opened and used as a top cover. They engage in
love-making and kiss. The man has an erect penis on his
forehead, the woman a vagina on hers. There is some used
Chirishi [toilet paper] just above her head on the floor,
used to wipe the love fluids. There is a folded package of
yet unused Chirishi in readiness. Chishiri shown in Japanese
Shunga [erotic prints] prints & paintings is an 'erotic
symbol' indicative of sexual excitement, with lots of
flowing love juices. Ergo the need for paper to clean up the
results of erotic love-making.
Number 4 shows an adult man with an erect penis on his
forehead, penetrating the anus of a younger man,
who's smaller but erect penis is seen on his forehead, as he
faces his lover. The younger man has no pubic hair yet,
indicating his youth.
Adjacent to these two men is a woman in the next room. The
door is open, she is voyeuring the two men. She has a vagina
on her. A Shogi board and two bowls for stones is located in
the front left of the illustration. Gay activities in
Japanese society were accepted as a norm, and were not
especially unusual. However to find graphic examples in
Japanese erotic books are exceptionally rare and seldom
Depicts a fully clothed man on his knees, he bends over a
sleeping woman. He has a very large erect penis and begins
to penetrate a woman with her vagina on her forehead. She is
fully clothed and sleeping on a wooden "pillow" which
supports her elaborate hair coiffeur.
Depicts a lively scene of two men and a woman. One man with
a very large and erect penis pulls the woman's arm toward
him, while she fends him off with a straight arm to his
head. A second excited man also with a large and erect
penis on his forehead masturbates and ejaculates in ecstasy.
The woman has a vagina on her forehead. The scene is likely
an intended rape of a young girl. She looks away in an
effort not to allow him to pull her close enough to insert
his penis into her exposed vagina.
Illustrating a lonely old man in bed. He has an erect penis
on his forehead and holds a kind of pot with a large
opening. He faces down and inserts his penis into the pot
The text in Shunga [erotic Japanese books & prints] is often
an erotic dialogue, describing the erotic action. Often
these words are onomatopoetic mimicking the sounds of people
in orgasm, or making comments about making love or the
pleasure and good feelings. The size and hardness of the
penis or the flavor and the juices of the vagina, and its
supple feelings of euphoria when engaged in love-making. All
wear 18thcentury period Kimono.
MODE AND FASHION OF THE MID-18TH CENTURY:
The room furnishing and Kimono of the participants in this
work all wear 18th century period Kimono, with period
decorations. The style of Kimono and room screens reflect
BINDING AND MOUNTING:
The book has probably been rebound sometime after the 1750's
with a more recent thin brown decorated paper with a silver
chrysanthemum, and a Mon [family crest] with gold and black
on both front and rear covers. Each cover has a distinctly
different kind of illustration but of the same theme. The
corners and edges are a bit worn, some loss to the paper, as
usual for a work from this period.
At an earlier time, each page was expertly mounted on a
stiff Washi [hand-made Japanese paper], into an accordion
folded book. Each illustration is bordered with a rare and
stunning crushed oyster-shell powder mixed with rice-glue
and overlaid on the border paper. The stunning effect is a
rare shimmering pearl-like color and hue with a remarkable
effect. This rare and largely unknown effect has been used
for print backgrounds by some of the later masters.
This was no ordinary mounting, and appropriate for an
exceptionally and most unusual RARE book !
By and large, the contents are clean, solid, with a two old
worm holes for the first 6 of 7 pages. These are small and
towards the edge, and does not detract from the overall
quality of the illustration. On page 7 there are a few
center margin old minor worm holes. All of these have been
restored when the prints were laid down on the thick Washi
paper, creating book format. The work is otherwise solid and
firm. There are a few 'rubs' on the old Washi paper, which
was made from very soft Kozo fibers, common to any item of
this period on this on handmade papers of the period.
CONDITION OF THE WOOODBLOCK PRINTS:
These are very early black and white woodcut prints.
Each print has an excellent and vivid impression, key blocks
are black and superbly printed with strong images. The paper
is old and has the patina of paper from that age, the usual
minor, mild surface rubbing or thumbing in the lower
corners, which is common.
We tend to be overly critical of any flaws found on our
books, and believe it is better to overly describe rather
than avoid such discussion any imperfections. Suffice to
say, by and large this is an excellent item in very nice
condition, something that any collector or museum
would be proud to own. Please review photos posted to our
R A R I T Y OF SUBJECT:
The placement of the genitals on the forehead gives one a
lot of room to theorize on the meaning of such artistic
expression. In our 50 years of experience in dealing
Japanese woodblock printed books and painted original art,
this is the first and only example with such imaginative and
symbolist expression. With the beginning of the work
showing the Buddha and his two disciples lacking any
genitals on their foreheads, one can simply assume, that in
a Buddhist way, they have given up carnal desire, as
represented by common people who's foreheads display
genitals, perhaps meaning that sex is on their minds or they
simply view others as sexual objects, eager to make love and
engage in carnal thoughts and activities. Obviously seeing
an erect penis on some man whiles others see what he thinks
and feels is an insight to his innermost thoughts and
desires. In all cases in this book the men all show an erect
penis. The women are a bit more difficult to fathom. Their
vaginas are simply visible on their foreheads, and no
fluids are visible or other evidence of their carnal desire
or sexually excited stated. All of the men have public hair
adjacent to their sex organs, while all women are lacking
any pubic hair completely. This is an erotic symbolism,
giving full view to women's genitals.
"BANNED" or "PROHIBITED" BOOKS: Shun Pon, Haru Bon:
In the case of this item, it is very likely that it was
printed in a much smaller discreet quantity than the 200
copies possible off the blocks. Due to the "banned" nature
of such books, there is no date, publisher nor place cited.
One is simply left to determine the date and artist by
stylistic analysis. It is well-known that during the
Tokugawa period [1603-1868], erotic prints and books were
"BANNED" or "PROHIBITED" by decree of the Shogun. One of the
influencing factors was that during this period some Shoguns
were changing their views and being influenced by Christians
who entered Japan during this period. The Shogun did not
want foreigners, and Jesuit missionaries to think that Japan
was a crass and base nation. Naturally foreigners soon
learned that prostitution was rampant and so this strange
logic from the Shogun never had much affect on the
Christians and surely not on the Japanese.
The Shogun enforced severe punishments for persons involved
in drawing, printing, carving blocks and publishing erotic
books and prints. With out the "Kiwame" or censor's approval
seal, all such items were "Banned" outright by the Shogun
While these "Prohibited" books and prints were widely
circulated in an "underground" society, there are ample
examples of famous artists taking on commissions to produce
erotic books and prints fun or profit. The record and
bibliography is loaded with these examples. "Banning" such
erotic works simply meant that the number printed were
limited to smaller numbers and distribution was done under
the table, discretely circulating such books privately among
collectors. During these times it was not necessary for
artists to sign their such artistic creations, by-and-large
the population had a very good idea who the artist was by
being familiar with their style and other works, it was
simply a "public secret" who the artist was. Often the
artist poked fun at the Shogun with political jokes and
assumed names to confound any chance of being discovered by
Over the centuries, this knowledge decreased and is now the
domain of the art historian or scholar to identify and
determine the actual artist. Stylistic analysis remains
the standard method for unsigned works.
While there are no signatures or seals indicating the
artist's name or even his alternate Go [studio name], we
believe this work is part of the "Primitives and First
Century of Ukiyo-e School 1660-1765" period. [See Lane
below]. The women's coiffeur is very similar to those found
in this period, as well as the drawing style, technique and
genre. It is this cataloger's opinion that this work was
likely the creation of one of the Moronobu School masters.
Perhaps done by Sukenobu, Yoshikiyo, Morishige, Sugimura,
Moronobu, Kiyonobu, Masanobu, or others from this period.
We believe this work was likely done from around 1710-1750.
It was also likely that it was done by one of the artists
LIKELY ARTIST ATTRIBUTION:
MORONOBU SUKENOBU SCHOOL:
Nishikawa Sukenobu [1671 -August 20, 1750] often called
simply "Sukenobu", was a Japanese printmaker from Kyoto. He
was unusual for a Ukiyo-e in being based in the imperial
capital of Kyoto. He did prints of actors, but gained note
for his works concerning women. His Hyakunin Joro
Shinasadame: Appreciating 100 Women, in two volumes
published in 1723, depicted women of all classes, from the
empress to prostitutes, and received favorable results
His Hyakunin Joro Shinasadame: Appreciating 100 women, in
two volumes published in 1723, depicted women of all
classes, from the empress to prostitutes, and received
favorable results Leading members of this school were:
Nishikawa Sukenobu the founder; Nishikawa Suketada;
Kawashima Nobukiyo; Nishikawa Terunobu; and Takagi Sadatake.
HISHIKAWA MORONOBU SCHOOL:
Hishikawa Moronobu [1618-July 25, 1694] was a Japanese
painter and printmaker known for his advancement of the
Ukiyo-e woodcut style starting in the 1670s.
Leading members of the MORONOBU school were:
Hishikawa Moronobu the founder; Hishikawa Morofusa;
Hishikawa Moroyoshi; Hishikawa Moronaga; Hishikawa
Moroshige; Hishikawa Morohira; and Tamazaki Ryujo.
This title is NOT listed in any of the below resources:
SHIBUI, Kiyoshi. UKIYO-E NAISHI. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF JAPANESE
EROTIC ILLUSTRATED WOODBLOCK PRINTED BOOKS.
H. KERLEN. CATALOGUE OF PRE-MEIJI JAPANESE BOOKS & MAPS IN
PUBLIC COLLECTIONS IN THE NETHERLANDS.
Richard Lane: IMAGES FROM THE FLOATING WORLD THE JAPANESE
PRINT; pages 28, 40-60 show examples of the Ukiyo-e
primitives [1660-1765], especially the Moronobu school,
pp.60-88 et al.
KSM: no entry found.
Nor any other usual bibliographies on Japanese Ehon
[woodblock printed books] or Japanese erotica.
See: WIKIPEDIA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanjaku
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