Katsushika Hokusai, Picture-Book Models of Couples

Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849

Picture-Book Models of Couples
(Ehon Tsuhi no Hinagata)

from an album of twelve prints; depicting a man wearing an plaid kimono making love to his partner under a kotatsu, an illustrated book is tossed aside to the lower left, and another volume with a matching cover rests on top of the kotatsu, ca. 1812

oban yoko-e 10 1/2 by 14 3/4 in., 26.7 by 37.4 cm

The couple were apparently stimulated by the contents of the book which has a suggestive title, Inyo awase gyokumonei ('in' and 'yo' refer to the female and male energies, also known as 'yin' and 'yang' in Chinese). The title of this series, Tsui no hinagata, is a typical play on words. Tsui (or tsuhi) can be read as 'couple' or 'male and female pairs' or it could be pronounced tsubi, an antiquated term for vulva. Hinagata can refer to 'patterns' such as interlocking kimono patterns, or it can mean 'sample.' As such, the title could be read as something as innocuous as 'Patterns of Couples' or as lewd as 'Samples of Vulvas.'

References:
Fukuda, Ukiyo-e no higi ga, 1978, p. 101
Hillier, The Art of Hokusai in Book Illustration, 1980, p. 166-169, no. 143
Forrer, Hokusai, 1988, p. 228, no. 251

Hayashi and Lane (eds.), The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga, no. 13, Hokusai, 1997, pl. 6
Uhlenbeck and Winkel, Japanese Erotic Fantasies, 2005, pp. 157-158

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