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Artist Deborah Davidson: E-tegami and cows

November 25, 2010

E-tegami, 絵手紙 (e= “picture”; tegami= “letter/message”) are simple drawings accompanied by a few apt words, and they are usually done on postcards so that they can be easily mailed off to one’s friends. Though etegami has few hard-and-fast rules, traditional tools and materials include writing brushes, sumi ink for the outline, gansai blocks for color, and soft absorbent washi postcards. They often depict some ordinary item from everyday life, especially items that bring a particular season to mind. ” — Deborah Davidson (aka Dosanko Debbie).

Some examples of Debbie’s cow etagami based on Japanese proverbs. Left:  Tsuno o tamete, Ushi o korosu, which translates roughly to: Killing the cow while trying to straighten its horn. It has a similar meaning to the English saying “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” (obsessing over minor things and screwing up something major).

More cow proverbs, or is it “proverbial cows”?

About the artist:

Deborah Davidson was born and raised in Japan and has lived for most of her life on the island of Hokkaido, home to the Ainu, Japan’s indigenous people. She has been translating professionally for over thirty years; everything from patents and business contracts to Ainu folklore and the novels of best-selling Japanese Christian writer Miura Ayako.

See more of her e-tegami on her blog Dosanko Debbie’s Etagami Notebook where you can also purchase her work.

Follow her on Twitter

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