Ki Baitei, Shrine servant, a colour woodblock surimono print


British Museum

British Museum

Surimono (literally 'printed things') were limited edition prints of superior quality, usually given to friends and acquaintances on special occasions, such as the New Year. This shows a servant at a shrine, who is wearing an eboshi, originally the court hat of the Heian period (AD 980-1185). He holds a rake to sweep up the fallen autumn leaves.

The haiku to the left are by six different poets. They are signed respectively (from right to left) Kikei, Kisei, Ganshi, Tōryō, Kaboku, and Gorai. The poem by Gorai is prominent by virtue of its position at the end and its larger size, which suggests that he was the head of the group. The poems all evoke scenes of autumn, describing the different aspects of the season, and this print would have been presented at around that time.

Ki Baitei (1734-1810) was born in Kyoto, and became a pupil of Yosa Buson (1716-83). He painted in the Nanga (Southern School) style, in imitation of Chinese painting, and was himself a competent haiku poet. The hairiness of the old man's face and legs are typical of Baitei's humorous, light-hearted style.

The signature reads ‘Kyūrō' and the seal beneath reads 'Baitei'.

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  • Title: Ki Baitei, Shrine servant, a colour woodblock surimono print
  • Date Created: 1800/1800
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 39.00cm; Width: 51.60cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: printed
  • Registration number: 1992,0624,0.1.JA
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Producer: Print artist Ki Baitei. Published by Tachibana Jihei. Inscription by Kikei. Inscription by Kisei. Inscription by Ganshi. Inscription by Toryo. Inscription by Kaboku. Inscription by Gorai
  • Period/culture: Kansei Era; Kyowa Era; Edo Period
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Sawers, Robert G