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Painting: Chinese children and an elephant from the
Hokusai school - shita-e (preliminary drawing)

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Dates: circa 1830,created
Dimensions: 9.5 in,11.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Sumi-e (painting in India ink)

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Physical description:

Preliminary drawing (shita-e) for a woodblock print. They can also be used as guides for sculptors and painters.

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"The publisher would receive from the artist the design's preparatory sketch, called a shita-e ("preparatory picture"), which widely varied in terms of completeness or detail level. Usually, the artist would provide only the main contours for the figures and an abbreviated suggestion for a background, the details of which were filled in advance by students or professional block copyists (called hikko). Sometimes, the artist would provide drawings that were almost finished or highly detailed. The final preparatory drawing was then traced by the hikko onto very thin paper (typically minogami). This final block copy of the drawing was called the hanshita-e ("block design" or "block sketch")."

Quoted from: Ukiyo-e: Secrets of the Floating World.

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Note that hikkō can be spelled with a long 'o'. Its kanji is 筆耕 (ひっこう) is used to mean any kind of copying or stenciling.