Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Tattoos in Japanese Prints exhibition catalogue

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

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'charts the history of tattooing in Japan and, with full-page colour prints capturing beautiful tattoos of breathtaking complexity, demonstrates why the Japanese tradition is considered to be the best in the world.' - The Economist

Many tattoo connoisseurs consider the Japanese tradition to be the finest in the world for its detail, complexity and compositional skill. Its style and subject matter are drawn from the visual treasure trove of Japanese popular culture, in particular, the colour woodblock prints of the early 19th century known as ukiyo-e.

This book featuring highlights from the Museum of Fine Art's Japanese art collection tells the fascinating story of how ukiyo-e first inspired tattoo artists as the pictorial tradition of tattooing in Japan was just beginning. It explores the Japanese tattoo’s evolving meanings, from symbol of devotion to punishment and even to crime, and reveals the tales behind specific motifs. With lush, colourful images of flowers blooming on the arm of a thief, sea monsters coiling across the back of a hero and legendary warriors battling on the chests of actors, the tattoos in these prints can offer the same vivid inspiration today as they did 200 years ago.

  • Author: Sarah E. Thompson is Curator of Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
  • Hardcover: 152 pages | 90 colour illustrations
  • Date published: September 2017
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0878468461
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 19.1 cm

'Sarah E. Thompson’s insightful examination of the history of tattoos in the art and popular culture of Japan' - Hyperallergic

'charts the history of tattooing in Japan and, with full-page colour prints capturing beautiful tattoos of breathtaking complexity, demonstrates why the Japanese tradition is considered to be the best in the world.' - The Economist