Japanese Woodblock Prints
Paul Binnie "Hell Courtesan"
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Paul Binnie "Hell Courtesan"

$ 700.00 $ 800.00

Paul Binnie

"Hell Courtesan" October 2014

Japanese Woodblock Print

19 x 13"

33/100 and 34/100 available

The run-up to Halloween seems like a good time to release my ghostliest print yet, my own version of the old Japanese tale of Jigoku Dayú, or the Hell Courtesan. There are many variations in this story, but I have decided to show the following version: once upon a time, a very beautiful and elegant courtesan lived in the pleasure quarters of old Japan. She was however extremely arrogant about her own beauty and unbearably cruel to her servants, to the other courtesans of her tea-house and even to her clients. When she suddenly took ill and died, Ema-O, the King Of Hell, stood her before his magical mirror, which shows the true souls of the deceased, and she finally understood how black was her heart. To punish her, the King of Hell made her wear an uchikake, an outer-kimono, made of all the souls of hell being tortured by demons, the weight of which was a constant reminder to the courtesan of how badly she had treated others.

In my print, there is some residue of the beauty of the courtesan in a rather late-Ukiyo-e way, but she is now blind, so that she can no longer admire her own beauty. Also, the face and the uchikake are drawn with different brushes, creating very distinct outlines, and the King of Hell appears with his mirror along with the demons and the tortured souls all over her uchikake. I was inspired by Watanake Kyosai's paintings of hell, and my Binnie seal below my signature is in the form of a tortured soul's skull. This design is in my new larger format, 47.5 x 33.5cm (19 x 13 inches) and is in an edition of 100, employing silver mica on the skull seal and embossing for my name in the lower margin.

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