Bunraku [Japanese Puppet Plays].
DOMON Ken.; TANAKA Ikko (1972.)
£550.00 [First Edition]
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First edition. 2 vols. Numerous photographic plates. Japanese text. Folio. Volume of plates in original decorated cloth, text-volume in original flexible boards, in decorated cloth slipcase, in cardboard box. A fine copy, signed by the photographer with his first name 'Ken' on a tipped-in sheet of washi paper. 125pp. Kyoto, Shishin-do,
One of the most beautiful book-productions in post-war Japan and undoubtably another milestone in Domon's oeuvre. The art of Bunraku puppet plays was developed in the 17th century and supposedly reached the peak of it's popularity in the 18th century. It is a highly complex art form where wooden puppets are moved on a stage by one to three puppeteers to the accompanyment of a shamisen player and a narrator. The skill of the puppeteer lies in his ability to submerge his whole existence beneath the role of puppet, i.e. to become invisible. Lower ranking puppeteers (so-called 'black children' kuro-ko) wear black robes and masks to help them achieve that aim, but for a master of the art such artificial camouflage is unnecessary. Although first published in 1972, Domon had taken most of the images before the war. One of the most evocative photographs is the left hand of the Yoshida Bungoro (1869-1962), the most renowned master of bunraku during the 20th century. Clearly visible are the calluses that develop from the pressure of the control-mechanism on the thumb and middle finger. Many of the images are taken backstage. Exquisite book-design by Tanaka Ikko.
Stock Code: 225473