Always under construction!
Motivation - why yet another Japanese art database?
There are already numerous online Japanese art databases available to the general public, so one might ask why I should attempt to "reinvent the wheel" with yet another Japanese art database? The aim of JAODB is to provide collectors and scholars with a "new type of wheel" that overcomes a number of deficiencies that exist with most other databases:
The provision for cataloging multiple scenes of printed items is a unique feature of this database when compared to most others (which usually contain only one example of a particular scene), and can provide a much richer source of information pertaining to that scene or print series. Some of the questions that JAODB can help answer are:
- Many of the databases exist in Japan and present a Japanese language interface that most non-Japanese have difficulty in using.
- All but one database that I know of provide just one example of a particular scene. For printed items such as woodblock prints, much more information can be gained by examining several examples of the same scene (as explained in detail below).
- No database provides tools for collectors and scholars to update the database with new information, i.e. adding a new scene, adding another example of an existing scene, or editing incorrect information1.
Ok, the list is almost endless.
- How many editions were published?
Example 1: (first and later edition)
Example 2: (several editions; check the publisher seal variations. Note: dating is not correct yet)
- The dating of those various editions (art databases invariably list only the first edition date for printed scenes)?
- Which edition is most common ( = which edition has the most prints in circulation)?
- Publisher-initiated colour palette changes:
Example: (green or blue bijin)
- Which inks/dyes are fugitive?:
Example: Prints of Tsuchiya Koitsu's "Asakusa Kannon Temple" often show signs of severe fading to blue of the fugitive green dyes.
- My Meiji-era print has album backing. Was this print (and prints from this series) ever sold in single full (= untrimmed) sheets?:
Example: Many Meiji-era print series were sold as both individual sheets as well as album sets. Note the example with trimmed margins has album backing. The untrimmed prints do not.
- Statistical analysis (my field), e.g. estimates of published quantities of each edition, expected price if you were to buy/sell a print, etc. (among many other possibilities)
How to use the database
The data contained in JAODB has been sourced from various websites including the main auctions such as eBay and Yahoo Japan. In many cases the descriptions of these artworks, as displayed in the "Notes" section of each item's webpage, have been written by non-experts. As such, there may be incorrect information, errors, omissions, etc. Please keep this in mind when perusing this website.
A unique feature of JAODB is that, in the case of printed items such as woodblock prints, lithographs, serigraphs, etc., the database can contain several examples of the same scene. By comparing the Notes data for each example, errors can be quickly detected and a more accurate understanding of the print can be determined.
Currently the "Publisher this edition" and "Date this edition" fields often contain incorrect information. These two fields were recently added to the database and were automatically set to their corresponding first edition values, rather than leaving them all blank. Over time the correct information for these fields will be added.
Because this database was originally my off-line research database, compiled by myself from various web sources for my own personal use, I generally did not seek permission from the owners and sellers of the contained artworks to store their works in the database. This information is now released to the public and provided as an educational resource to scholars and collectors of Japanese art. JAODB would like to thank the caretakers of these art items for their contributions to this database, and I hope that the caretakers do not object to this information being displayed publicly here. Should an owner wish that their works not be displayed in the JAODB, please email me the database item number using the contact link below.
The items displayed here are not being offered for sale.
Footnote 1: this function is not yet implemented.
Site copyright: Dr Ross F. Walker. Copyright of the displayed artwork: the original owner. The information contained on this website is provided as an educational resource to scholars and collectors of Japanese art. JAODB would like to thank the caretakers of these art items for their contribution to this database. The items displayed here are not being offered for sale. Unless otherwise indicated the displayed item is not in the ownership of JAODB or Ross Walker.