We’ve posted a few different things on the site over the years that pay tribute to the traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e style from the 1800’s. I think this might be the first time we are talking about actual images from the time period.
Ukiyo-e means “pictures of floating worlds” and the images were created as woodblock prints. There are Ukityo-e prints on pretty much any topic from travel to porn (well, the 1800’s version of Japanese erotica), but these prints from the Inshoku Yojo Kagami (“Mirror of the Physiology of Drinking and Eating”) are medical images designed to give readers an insight into the inner workings of the human body.
While the ancient Japanese text can be hard to decipher, a cataloguer at Sothebys explains this first image like this:
the gall-bladder assumes the function of an inspector controlling in proper order the condition of the entire body. After the food supply is worked up, it is carried to the spleen which, paradoxically, is located in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen. The heart is participating in the “burning process”. In the centre of the heart a scholar samurai is presiding over the life process with two piles of books in front of him.
It’s like the ancient Japanese version of Pixar’s Inside Out!