‘Ehon Don Kihōte’: The precursor of the Serizawa books

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 21 March, 2024
6:00pm GMT - 7:00pm GMT


Hybrid lecture at the Sainsbury Institute, NR1 4DH, and online via Zoom.
50 min lecture followed by Q&A.
Free and open to all, booking essential.
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In-person registration for this event is limited . If you would like to attend in-person, please email or call us on +44 (0) 1603 597507 to book your place. 

Doors for in-person attendees will open at 17:45.

The link to register to attend online is available below. 


Dr Rosanna Rios Perez (Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow 2023-2024, Sainsbury Institute)

About the Talk

Serizawa Keisuke (1895~1984), a renowned Japanese textile artist and active member of the Mingei movement, created a “Japanized” illustrated version of the novel by Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, commissioned by North American bibliophile Carl Tilden Keller (1872-1955) in 1935. It was mediated, directed, and supported by Jugaku Bunshō (1900-1992), a Kyoto-based publisher and scholar in English literature acquainted with Sōetsu Yanagi (1889-1961).

Presumably, the commission to create this piece entitled the “Ehon Don Kihōte,” apart from bringing Serizawa new technical explorations into kappazuri on washi, instigated a broad creative outcome in his artistic repertoire known as ‘The Serizawa Books’. It also acted as what scholars have called a “bridge between cultures” or transcontinental expansion of the Mingei ideals. However, the limited copies and high value of the book noticeably contrast with Yanagis’ mass-produced and low-price folk crafts.

A later version of this book appeared in 1976 under the title “Shinpan Ehon Don Kihōte.” In this work created using katazome on washi, a different style evident in the illustrations suggests the embodiment of the individual artist personified by Serizawa, who had received the title of Living National Treasure in 1956 for his skill kataezome.

In this lecture, an examination of the context in which Serizawa created the illustrated Don Quixote and his later Shinpan Ehon Don Kihōte book, framed within the Mingei ideals and Serizawa’s individual development, are discussed.

About the Speaker

Rosanna Rios Perez is an artist who specialises in Japanese traditional dyeing techniques katazome and yūzen. After developing these techniques during her Master’s degree at Kyoto Seika University, she focused her PhD research on textile artist Yunoki Samiro, who was mentored by Serizawa Keisuke and eventually brought him into close contact with the Mingei members.

As a current Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute, Rosanna is reviewing the ‘Serizawa books,’ taking particular interest in the Ehon Don Kihōte and Shinpan Don Kihōte. She investigates the visual devices present in both artworks and how technical aspects related to katazome dyeing on paper heralded Serizawa’s widely renowned works on paper. She is centrally interested in how “continuity and change” allowed Serizawa to overcome the technical difficulties experienced during the Second World War period in Japan, such as availability of materials, and encouraged a series of katazome works, such as the calendars.

Image: Shinpan Ehon Don Kihōte, 1976, private collection

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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.