MFA Collection Books

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

Sarah E. Thompson
Format Regular Price Member Price
Hardcover $24.95 $22.46

152 pages, 90 color illustrations, 7.5 × 9.75 in, ISBN: 978-0-87846-846-1 

This book tells the fascinating story of how, in the early nineteenth century, the color woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e first inspired tattoo artists as the pictorial tradition of tattooing in Japan was just beginning. It explores the Japanese tattoo’s evolving meanings, from symbol of devotion to punishment and even to crime, and reveals the tales behind specific motifs. With lush, colorful images of flowers blooming on the arm of a thief, sea monsters coiling across the back of a hero, and legendary warriors battling on the chests of actors, the tattoos in these prints can offer the same vivid inspiration today as they did two hundred years ago.

About the Author

Sarah E. Thompson is Curator, Japanese Art, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Generous support for the publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publications Fund.