Joge-e: Two-Way Pictures

In the second half of the nineteenth century the west shows a sudden interest in images that can be seen upside down. There are several examples, the most famous being probably Peter Newell’s Topsys and Turvys (New York: The Century Co., 1893), followed by a second volume in 1894, and Gustave Verbeek’s comic strip, Upside-Downs Of Little Lady Lovekins And Old Man Muffaroo (1903-1905). At least another book had been published previously, Upside Down, or, Turnover Traits from Original Sketches by the Late William McConnell (London: Griffin and Farran, 1868), with texts by Tom Hood, in which each of the 15 pictures is meant to represent both a person and an animal to which it is compared.

As Greedy as a Pig (William McConnell)

This kind of picture appears to have been very popular in Japan from the beginning of the century, according to a post at the Pink Tentacle blog:

Joge-e, or “two-way pictures,” are a type of woodblock print that can be viewed either rightside-up or upside-down. Large numbers of these playful prints were produced for mass consumption in the 19th century, and they commonly featured bizarre faces of deities, monsters or historical figures (including some from China). Only a few examples of original joge-e survive today.


All of these images represent only the faces of characters, just like the pictures in Dreh’ mich um, rund herum! by Otto Bromberger, published in Germany in the 1890s.

Turn me round (Bromberger)

Other interesting items at Pink Tentacle include:

Mythical 16th-century disease critters
Edo-period monster paintings by Sawaki Suushi

This entry was posted in Gustave Verbeek, Peter Newell. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Joge-e: Two-Way Pictures

  1. Pingback: Gustave Verbeek’s Cruel Tales and the Nonsense Tradition | A Blog of Bosh

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