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A variety of large and small seashells rest on sand with a small wave in the background.

Shells of various textures, shapes, and colors almost float on the surface near the bottom of the print. A stylized wave in the background indicates a shore. The largest and heaviest looking one is a closed clamshell on the left with its hinge most viable to the viewer. The rice paper has light embossing and a slight shimmer at certain angles, from mica applied to the paper. Vertical lines of calligraphy float across the top half of the print, with a red seal in upper right.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Totoya Hokkei 魚屋北渓, Japanese (1780-1850)
Flower Shells (Hanagai), Ark Shells (Akagai) and Squirting Shells (Shiofukigai), from the series A Set of Shells (Kaizukushi)
Work Type
surimono, print
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Woodblock print (surimono); ink, color, and metallic pigment on paper
21 x 18.5 cm (8 1/4 x 7 5/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: (printed) Motome ni ōji Hokkei utsusu

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Friends of Arthur B. Duel
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Publication History

  • Theodore Robert Bowie and James T. Kenney, Art of the Surimono, exh. cat., Indiana University Art Museum (Bloomington, IN, 1979), Cat. No. 053 / p. 93
  • Edythe Polster and Alfred H. Marks, Surimono: Prints by Elbow, Lovejoy Press (Washington D.C., 1980), p. 203
  • Marie Culver, "Surimono Analysis of Metals and Examination of Techniques Used in Japanese Prints" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, May 1984), Unpublished, pp. 1-30 passim

Exhibition History

Verification Level

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at