1976. Item #91029
Yamaguchi Hiroichi 山口汎一, artist . Panatorie No E to Ehon [Eto Ehon] ぱなとりゑのえとゑほん [干支絵本], 12 vol set of miniature books. Shōwa 51 . A 12 volume set of miniature books (mame ehon 豆本) based on the sexagenary cycle of 12 zodiac animals (eto 干支) by artist Yamaguchi Hiroichi 山口汎一 (1939-88). Housed in a 16 x 11.5cm green box with a large diamond-shaped title label with small illustrations of each of the 12 zodiac animals and a red hanko with the character for ‘8’ indicating the edition number. Numbered 8 of a limitation of 50 copies on the colophon. The title “Panatorie” is a phrase coined by the artist, who took one Japanese character from his given name, “Han” 汎, with a handakuten to change it to a ‘p’ sound, and then added the Japanese version of “atorie” from the French word for art studio, “atelier.”
9 of the small books are bound Japanese style, fukuro-toji and 3 are bound Western style; they are a mix of colors and sizes. Each one has a printed title slip with the Japanese character for that zodiac sign and a title for that sign’s book in kana syllabary. Colors include neutral tones such as black or cream, as well as vibrant colors such as orange, green and lavender; the design and texture of paper wrappers varies as well. What they share in common are humorous and clever linocut prints in black + white that are hand-colored, a title page, a tipped-in hanko on color paper and a numbered colophon, most of which are illustrated. Japanese text with occasional English words; the Tiger volume has plates labeled in English.
The books range in size from 5.8 x 6.3cm to 9.4 x 7.9cm. Each is numbered 1-12 in order of appearance in the sexagenary cycle. 1=Rat / Ne, 2=Ox / Ushi, 3=Tiger / Tora, 4=Rabbit / Usagi, 5=Dragon / Tatsu, 6=Snake / Mi, 7=Horse / Uma, 8=Goat / Hitsuji, 9=Monkey / Saru, 10=Rooster / Tori, 11=Dog / Inu and 12=Wild Boar / Inoshishi. The last volume begins with a note on the ending of the zodiac series.
The delightful set is filled with illustrations in linocut, with nuances in style from volume to volume. Some, like the dragon and tiger books, have a modern, manga-esque style, while others, like the Ox and Rat books, tell traditional tales of the animal in Edo-period style. Yet all have the same tongue-in-cheek approach and imaginative, lively illustrations and are subversive, to say the least. The artist himself makes an appearance in a few places within the pages and on hanko, as a charming, bearded old man with round glasses and a large beak of a nose. For details on the artist and process see the blog post accessed June 14, 2022 https://letterpresslabo.com/2017/08/15/kulpcws-column09-panatorie/. According to this reference, the artist completed all the work himself, from the text, to the artwork, to the binding.
Box cover and label have dirt and damp staining with transfer of box pigment onto part of the label and inside the box cover. Label is partially detached. Fading with chipping to the corners of the box. Fading to some of the covers; transferring of pigment to one. Otherwise books and artwork are in very good condition.