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End of the world. - [Sekai Tenpuku Kidan].

Fukutaro, October 2nd 1881 (Meiji 14) Colour woodcut on two sheets 36x49cm. Some splodges, professional repairs to wormholes, not bad. ¶ Mother Shipton in Japan and the end of world over 15 days. Word somehow spread, at the time of a series of natural disasters, that some 15th century westerner had prophesised the end of the world in 1881 and it looked very much like it was happening. I can't find any indication that Mother Shipton has been identified in Japan but she must be our culprit. Or rather, since Mother Shipton's prophecies only began appearing a century or so after her death, supposing that she did exist, in this case the blame lies with Charles Hindley, hack antiquarian and bibliographer, who published an authentic version of her prophecies in 1862 which included the 1881 prophecy and, in 1873, confessed that he made it up. A chilling sort of butterfly effect, in that an amusing jape in Brighton, England ends up apparently causing despair and suicides in Japan twenty years later. What is curious is that these prints and pamphlets are labelled a 'delusion' of the end of the world but this did not stop despair and it certainly didn't affect the sales of all these prints. Fujimoto* quotes from a 1925 interview with someone who remembered the fuss and spoke of crowds in the print shops every day and the rising number of suicides. I gather the authorities lost patience and cracked down pretty quick. Naturally all those books and prints have pretty much vanished. Now, this may not meet the strict definition of a kawaraban - illicit sheets issued anonymously - but I think that's nitpicking. In spirit this is a kawaraban: the latest news, more importantly the latest bad news, cheaply printed for the common folk and it made the authorities unhappy. *This print is no.8 in a deduced list of 19 items put together by Naoki Fujimoto for an article on the delusion in a 2010 NDL newsletter. Quite a few of those were listed as unseen. He locates a copy of this print at Tokyo University and Tokyo Museum has a copy. That's all I could find. Waseda has a similar print but in a different format published by Hirano Denkichi a few days earlier. I gather the balloon is carrying a couple of English balloonists fleeing the country but I'm not clear which country.
AUD 1200.00 [Appr.: EURO 733.5 US$ 795.39 | £UK 624.75 | JP¥ 124851] Book number 10927

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