Fans of traditional Japanese art, rejoice! There’s now an incredible online collection available featuring ancient wave and ripple designs from 1903. The black ink drawings were originally produced by the little-known Japanese artist Mori Yuzan. Despite his lack of fame, Yuzan’s artwork speaks for itself—his expressive motifs and patterns would have acted as a go-to guide for traditional Japanese craftsmen looking to adorn their swords, religious objects, ceramics, and other items with wave designs. The impressive archive, titled Hamonshū, boasts three volumes of Yuzan’s illustrations, all of which are now available to download for free on Internet Archive.
Yuzan’s artwork is rendered in the distinct Nihonga style (meaning Japanese painting), an aesthetic that emerged during the Meiji period, a time of rapid Westernization in Japan. The monochrome, inky style is typically executed on Japanese washi paper using brushes. The three volumes offer a wide range of abstract line drawings that represent the various forms of waves as they swell, crash, and swirl. Such imagery still remains popular in Japan more than a century after the publication of Hamonshū, where Japanese culture continues to celebrate traditional craft and the beauty of natural elements.