“A marvelous erotic scene with an intimate couple distracted by a skein of geese passing in the background.”
The man is naked except for his red loincloth, allowing us a good view of the splendid tattoo on his back featuring one of the heroes of the Suikoden subduing an adversary. Pasted on the wall behind the couple are two woodblock prints, one of them showing the famous Kabuki actor Matsumoto Koshiro V on a print published by Takenouchi Magohachi.
Antique Japanese color woodblock. Shunga (lit. Spring picture).
These pages come from an exquisitely printed and expensive erotic picture book, which was probably commissioned by a wealthy merchant at the time. The best carvers working in Ukiyo-e at the time were hired for the job and the prints were added with numerous gaufrage and metallic pigment details.
"A scene of vigorous love-making by a working-class married couple. The man is tattooed with scenes from the famous saga of the 108 heroes of the Suikoden (The Water Margin). Originally a Chinese hero tale, the Suikoden was popularized in Japan with the novel Shinpen Suikogaden (New Illustrated Edition of the Suikoden), written by Takizawa (Kyokutei) Bakin (1767-1848) and illustrated by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). The ninety volumes appeared in serialized form from 1805 to 1838. In this composition two actor prints decorate the wall". (Excerpt from 'Japanese Erotic Fantasies' by C. Uhlenbeck)
p.132 (Illust.67) in Japan Tattoo, Tattoos in Japanese Prints (Andon 87) published by Society for Japanese Arts
p.130 (Illust.125) in Shunga, the Erotic Art of Japan by Marco Fagioli
p.191 (Illus.72c) in Japanese Erotic Fantasies by Chris Uhlenbeck