Hasegawa Keika 長谷川契華, Kyōka zuan 京華図案, 1905

Hasegawa Keika 長谷川契華 (act. 1892-1905) 

Kyōka zuan 京華図案

Volumes 1-2

Publisher: Unsōdō, Kyoto

Meiji period (1868-1912), 1905

Woodblock printed book; ink and color on paper

24.4 x 16.5 cm

Kyōka zuan belongs to a category of pattern books that was published in the Meiji period primarily to be used in textile production or for ceramic and lacquerware decoration. These books developed from hinagatabon of the Edo period such as the one shown in the previous entry; however, zuan often featured both patterns coming from the traditional repertoire and newly imported trends. One example of the latter in Kyōka zuan is the exquisite design of peacock feathers. Like the earlier hinagatabon, this two-volume book could be appreciated for its aesthetic value, as much as for any practical application.


Keika’s clever juxtaposition of patterns on this page is as masterful as the designs themselves. On the right, yellow tachibana oranges float in the swirls of water, which resonate with the blue clouds on the facing page. The pastel colors of the stream and the autumn bellflowers (rindō) below are countered by the bold black ground with stripes and bright roundels. Since many of the designs were intended to appear on kimono, they often refer to typical dyeing and embroidery techniques such as shibori (tie-dye) or sashiko (stitching used for both decoration and reinforcement of clothes). In the opening shown, the roundels are decorated with a distinctive kanoko shibori pattern that is created on fabric by tying it in small pinches before dyeing. 


The Kyoto publisher Unsōdō produced this volume; this firm played a key role in producing and popularizing zuan books and journals. Established in 1891 as a publishing house specializing in art books, Unsōdō capitalized on the developing genre and fueled its further creation and distribution.


Maria Puzyreva

Selected Readings:

Johnson, Scott. 2014. “New Colours, a New Profession & a New Idea: Zuan Enrich Kyoto Design Books.” Andon 97 (September): 117-28.

———. 2016. “Zuan Pattern Books: The Glory Years.” Andon 100: 5–75.

Yokoya, Kenichirō, and Mikio Matsuo. 2008. Zuanchō In Kyoto: Textile Design Books for the Kimono Trade. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Libraries.