This Japanese matchbox label makes me outrageously happy: the stag is utterly focused and dedicated to his task of walking on stilts, while the cherubs are all “everybody dance, now”. And the whole thing is gloriously nonsensical, at least to those of us who can’t read kanji. If one of my readers would like to provide a translation, I will be glad to edit it in. For all I know these are “Deer on Stilts” brand matches and the label is a literal illustration, but somehow I doubt it. (ed: As you can see below, regular reader Wolfie translates the text as “high-quality, break-resistant”, so no clue there to break the surrealistic aura of the image.)
Regardless of the explanation for the subject matter, this little image is beautifully designed and very well printed, almost perfectly in register and making a nice use of the faintly pinkish color of the paper. The level of craft found in Japanese matchbox labels is extraordinary; the best of them are like simplified versions of the great woodblock prints, and have a lot to offer any cartoonist as examples of excellent use of line and large flat blocks of color in a limited space.
See more matchbox labels from many parts of the world, and other images to intrigue, amuse, and/or instruct, on tumblr at the Coelacanth Gallery.