The Kyoto artist Idô Masao (井堂雅夫) was born in Manchuria (northeast China) in 1945, but his family moved to Morioka in Iwate Prefecture, Japan in 1946 and to Kyoto in 1959. Idô apprenticed with Mitsuho Yoshida, a traditional fabric dyer, in 1961, and also studied in Kyoto with Yoshida Kôhô and Ôtsubo Shigechika (woodblock prints) in 1972. Now a long-time resident of Kyoto, he has hosted a television show on a Japanese cable network (NKK) on making woodblock prints. A highly regarded modern printmaker focused on traditional themes, Idô is the premier printmaker in the Kyoto area. His works are included in the collections of such institutions as the Museum of Modern of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Florence Municipal Museum; Kyoto National Museum; and Tokyo National Museum.
For more information about this artist, see Ido Masao Biography.
Fudô Myôô or Âcala ("the Immutable [Immovable] One") is the Buddhist divinity of fire and the deity (or rather its avatar) of the Sun Buddha in Shingon Buddhism. He is the principal deity of the Five Angry Lords of Light or Five Wisdom Kings of the Womb Realm in Vajrayana Buddhism. Fudô is typically shown holding his sword, with which he slashes away material connections, and rope, which he uses to bind up demons and evil-doers. Fudô is invariably depicted with one eye glaring down, the other upward, his mouth snarling with fangs visible, and long hair hanging down over his left shoulder. He stands on an immovable rock and is encircled by a flaming nimbus or halo called the "karura flame," named after a mythical fire-breathing bird-like creature, the garuda.
Idô Masao is far better known for his picturesque and tranquil views of landscapes, town and city views, gardens, and flora and fauna (see IDO01 and IDO02). This powerful depiction of Fudô Myôô is therefore a most unusual example from his oeuvre. Equally interesting is the technique used here — rôketsuzome (蝋結染 or ろうけつ染), which is a traditional wax-resist textile dyeing method. Ido Masao applied waxes to the paper by selecting brushes of various quality, depending on the purpose, such as producing wide swatches of a single color, fine detail, or blending colors. The image of the reverse side (shown above right) looks very unlike traditional woodblock-printed sheets — there are, of course, no marks from a baren (rubbing pad).
The paper is thick, a requirement for resisting wear or damage during the application and removal of warm wax and the brushing on of colorants during numerous stages of printing. Note especially the bright white areas on the verso, which clearly indicate where wax was applied to resist all the colorants through nearly the entire printing process. Only in a late or final stage was bright yellow added to the ornamentation on Fudô's robes, arms, and hair.
This is a remarkable and rare example of using rôketuzome in the making of a Japanese print on paper.