In recent weeks measles again became one of the main topics covered in the news stories. Not that long ago, before the advent of the vaccines, measles epidemics were a common occurrence around the globe. Back in the nineteenth century numerous hashika-e (measles pictures) from the UCSF Japanese Woodblock print collection served as guides to combat this disease. Many of them include a holly leaf (tarayō) believed to contain protective powers as well as recommendations for auspicious diet and and explanations how to persuade the measles kami (“Shinto term for god, divinity”*) to leave.
These charms when attached to a door or screen were supposed to protect the house and its inhabitants against measles:
Charm against measles. Utagawa Yoshitsuya, 1862.
Poetic charm against measles. Utagawa Yoshikatsu, 1862.
Another print depicts three “mighty men” conquering measles.
Three mighty men conquering measles. Ochia Yoshiiku, ca. 1870s.
And the battle to eradicate measles continues…
Modern day narrative on battle against measles. Unknown artist, ca. 1860.
Please visit the UCSF archives digital collection to view the remaining prints related to contagious diseases and read about their meaning.
*Japanese popular prints: from votive slips to playing cards. Rebecca Salter, 2006.
In January of 2013 the Archives staff installed a new exhibit titled “Pharmacy and Pharmacists” in the first floor gallery of the Library that will be on display through the end of the year.
This exhibit presents a selection of Japanese prints portraying traditional drug compounding and distribution establishments. Numerous advertisements for drug stores carefully depict pre-modern shops which were open to the street and had several signs promoting proprietary medicine and other store specialties. On many prints the physician (identifiable by his bald head) can be seen consulting with the pharmacists. Around the store, assistants and apprentices are preparing herbal drugs by grinding and powdering medicinal plants, dispensing drugs to customers and delivering new shipments of herbs. Some streets in Tokyo and other cities had rows of wholesale and retail drug emporia boldly advertising their traditional and Western-style products. The artists also show people from different walks of life in the street scenes where drugstores serve as a backdrop for everyday activities, with two prints depicting views of Mt. Fuji.
Yagi Hall (Yagidō), 1884
Artist: Matsukawa Hanzan (Japanese, 1818-1882)
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
37.7 x 25.5 cm
Object ID: ucsf_p279
A Japanese print with Chinese writing depicting a large drug wholesale business in Osaka by the name of “Yagido.” The business specializes in imported traditional Chinese medicine and seems to be appealing to preferred customers via this advertisement.
More information about this image: http://bit.ly/ucsfp279