Advent Calendar Day 1


Ink drawing of a boy building a snowman while two other figures pass by


Album of poetry, wildlife, and Kyoto scenes (boy building Snowman) by Morikawa Sobun

Our annual Advent calendar begins today with a delightful painting taken from an album of poetry, wildlife and Kyoto scenes.

One of the most charming images in the album, it depicts a group of children making a yukidaruma (snow Bodhidharma), the equivalent of a snowman in the West. A mochi (pounded rice cake) vendor wheels past the tools of his trade on the way to setting up his stand.

The 29 images in this album run the gamut of Sobun's repertoire and include images of craftsmen’s studios, landscapes, birds, flowers and insects. Most of the paintings in the album are of identifiable shops and locations within Kyoto, known very well to the artist and his circle of Chinese culture aficionados. A small work such as the Ashmolean’s album would probably not have been made for display in a competitive exposition, but could have been part of the prevalent group exhibitions held at temples throughout Kyoto in the 1870s attended by the artistic and literary-minded.

Album of poetry, wildlife, and Kyoto scenes (boy building Snowman) 1877–1885
Morikawa Sobun (1847–1902)

Calligraphy with ink on paper
26.4 x 29.3cm

Not currently on display