or to be more precise what it really was all about...SEX
Here are some actual
images from that period, the 19th century, showing the real activities
of the ladies involved. The images come from books known as
sexually explicit imagery.
(Click on image to enlarge and click again to close.)
is a Japanese term for erotic pictures. Some scholars believe that
the first shunga were inspired by Chinese medical manuals. Shunga
prints grew in popularity in the early 18th century and the
production of shunga peaked in the golden age of the print period in
the late 18th century. Many ukiyo-e artists did shunga in addition
to their normal specialties. The works sold well and, often at
higher prices than the normal genre. So, artists had an incentive to
delve into the realm of shunga. Often of very high quality and with
great sensitivity to the subject, the best artists produced shunga
of remarkable beauty. Shunga were rarely signed as collectors in the
field know. Some of the noted artists in the field were; Moronobu,
Hokusai, Shigenobu and the great Utamaro.
Many were produced in small format to be sold as
a set in a miniature folder. These prints were sized so that they
could be carried regularly.
Shunga were considered to be a lucky charm for
samurai and merchants, so publishers produced small sets like this
where full sized albums would not work.