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The Life of Discarded Things - No.7 'The Unread Books'


Image of The Life of Discarded Things - No.7 'The Unread Books'
  • Image of The Life of Discarded Things - No.7 'The Unread Books'
  • Image of The Life of Discarded Things - No.7 'The Unread Books'

Japanese folklore & proverbs are a huge source of inspiration to me and this series of prints looks at an area of particular fascination. In Japanese folklore all things have a spirit (or a god residing within them), including such items as household tools and objects. In literature and illustrated books there are examples of Yōkai (a supernatural monster or spirit/妖怪) which have been transformed from everyday items into mischievous characters once they reach 100 years in age. But in addition, an object that has been tossed aside or remained unused without the proper thanks can also become animated into taking revenge. This series of prints will highlight some of the characters you may find familiar in your own home, and might give you pause for thought.

Seventh in the series is ‘The Unread Books’.

Every print comes with a signed and stamped paper 'story slip' (see images above) describing how the character depicted came to their discarded life:

“The Life of Discarded Things/ No.7 The Unread Books /積ん読の婆

In Japan, there is a word which when translated means roughly ‘a pile of books that you have bought but not read’ and that word is ‘tsundoku’.

This pile of unread books has transformed into a ‘tsundokunobaba’, an extremely jealous and destructive yōkai who grew in size over time and now causes havoc on the bookshelves and bedside tables.

Jealous of books that are actually being read, she tears pages, removes the last few pages of thrillers and the index pages of reference books, and steals (and eats) bookmarks. She also delights in hiding reading glasses and library books just as they are due to be returned.

The good news is that her strength can be diminished - simply by reading that pile of unread books, she may be persuaded to forgive and you may find that those missing pages have been taped back into place and your reading glasses returned."

The story slip can be pasted on to the backing board of a frame, or mounted in a window under the print itself for framing if desired (if using bespoke framing).

Individually hand printed using Japanese pigment inks and hand carved rubber printing blocks, with ink details. Each print will have natural small variations, due to the methods used - the one you receive may not be exactly the same as the one shown in the photographs.

Printed on 100g oatmeal 100% recycled paper (with natural flecks).
Paper size: A3 (297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 inches).
Signed in pencil and stamped with nakamura characters [中村] in red ink.

Please note: the print is sold unframed, but fits an IKEA ribba frame.