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European Artists Influenced by Japanese Prints

Glossary of Japanese Terms

Terms associated with Japanese Woodblock Prints

Ukiyo - originally a Buddhist phrase meaning 'the floating world' used to explain that human life passed quickly, the word later became used to describe the pleasures of life.

Ukiyo-e - 'pictures of the floating world'. The suffix '-e' means pictures, and ukiyo-e was the word used to describe art produced in Japan in the period from the 16th to the 19th century.

Shita-e - ink line drawing, a preparatory design sketch produced by the artist at the first stage of producing a woodblock print.

Horishi - the carver who pastes the drawing onto a wooden block and carves away all surplus wood, leaving only the outlines from the drawing, raised on the surface of the block.

Iroita - colour blocks. A separate block must be carved for each different colour.

Sakura - cherry wood, a hard wood with straight grain which is well-suited to the demands of intricate carving and repeated printing.

Surishi - the printer who  applies colour to the blocks, using a brush. Moistened paper is then placed on the block.

Kôzo - mulberry, the plant fibres from which paper was made for Ukiyo-e prints. This paper is absorbent and strong.

Baren - the circular rubbing pad used to transfer colour onto the paper from the printing block - the printer rubs the back of the paper to make sure paper absorbs the pigment.