Art Institute of Chicago Celebrates Japanese Picture Calendars in Exhibition

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CHICAGO, IL.- In celebration of the New Year and new calendars to be filled, this exhibition brings together approximately 40 egoyomi, the unique Japanese prints that cleverly incorporated calendar markings into their designs. Until 1873, the Japanese calendar was based on a lunar system that divided months into dai no tsuki (long months) of 30 days and sho no tsuki (short months) of 29 days. Because the sequence of long and short months changed annually, the order of the months was recorded subtly and skillfully in the lush pictures of egoyomi prints. Egoyomi flourished during the Meiwa era (1764–71) when the laws of the ruling shogunate dictated that only a handful of publishers were officially allowed to produce calendars for the public. Nevertheless, wealthy patrons often privately commissioned egoyomi, eagerly exchanging them among the members of their literary circles. It has been argued that because these independent egoyomi were in defiance of the law, the calendar