Page:Japanese Wood Engravings.djvu/20

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JAPANESE WOOD ENGRAVINGS

earlier than the German block of St. Christopher. The cut is of large size (the figure about 18 inches in height), and may be accepted as a fair example of the work of the priestly xylographer.

Japanese Wood Engravings-1895-022.jpg
Fig. 4.—Agni Dêva the Fire Divinity. Reduced facsimile of a woodcut dated in the 2nd year of Shochiū (1325). Engraved by a priest named Riokin. (Author's Collection.)

The history of Japanese wood engraving may be tentatively divided into six periods, an abstract summary of which is given on page 76.

First Period.

The First or Initial Period is a long term probably extending from the commencement of block-printing, but certainly not later than the fourteenth century, to the beginning of the seventeenth century. The work of the pictorial engraver was apparently confined throughout to the Buddhist woodcuts already mentioned, for although many block books were printed in the temples, none of these are known to bear illustrations. Further researches may however be rewarded by the discovery of facts that will necessitate material alteration in the dates of our periods.