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Sawamura Tosshō II as Tora Ōmaru from the series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The actor Sawamura Tosshō II as Tora Ōmaru

from the series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1877

IHL Cat. #649

About This Print

The actor Sawamura Tosshō II (1838-1886) as Tora Ōmaru, the King of the Tigers.  He holds a magical scroll from which a tiger has leaped.  A faint image of the tiger remains on the scroll.

For a profile of Sawamura Tosshō II please see the article The Kabuki Actor.

The Series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac

This series of twelve prints depicts actors in roles associated with the twelve animal signs of the Zodiac.  The Japanese Zodiac and calendar were introduced from China into Japan in the sixth century.  Legend has it that the animals of the Zodiac (子 Rat, 丑 Ox, 寅 Tiger, 卯 Hare, 辰 Dragon, 巳 Snake, 午 Horse, 未 Goat, 申 Monkey, 酉 Rooster, 戌 Dog and 亥 Boar) were named by the Buddha as he lay dying. 

The Lavenberg Collection contains four prints from the series: Sawamura Tosshō II as Tora Ōmaru; Ichikawa Sadanji as the monk Raigo Ajari; Bandō Hikosaburō as Unryū Kūrō and Bandō Hikosaburō as Inugami HyōbuI have come across four additional prints from this series, as shown below, but I am still looking for prints representing the 丑 Ox, 午 Horse, 未 Goat and 酉 Rooster.  

While some sources attribute the images in the series to particular plays, my guess is that the scenes depicted are from the imagination of Kunichika, rather than from actual plays. 

Ichikawa Sadanji as the monk Raigō Ajari from the series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac
 Ichikawa Sadanji
as the monk Raigō Ajari

(representing the Rat 子)
頼豪阿闍梨 市川左團治
Onoe Kikugorō V
as Princess Takiyasha
(representing the Ox 丑)
瀧夜叉姫 尾上菊五郎
Sawamura Tosshō II as Tora Ōmaru from the series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac
Sawamura Tosshō II
as Tora Ōmaru

(rpresenting the Tiger 寅x 丑)
虎王丸 沢村訥升

Nakamura Shikan IV
as Iga no Jutaro
(representing the Hare)
 
伊賀壽太郎
中村芝

 
(representing the Dragon 
雲竜九郎 坂東彦三郎

Nakamura Shikan IV
as Daija Maru
(representing the Serpent 巳)
大蛇丸 中村芝翫
Ichikawa Sadanji
as Princess Koma
(representing the Horse 午)
 
駒姫 市川左團

Iwai Hanshirō
as Princess Terute
(representing the Ram未)
照田 岩井半四郎
Onoe Kikugoro V
as Mibu no Kozaru
(representing the Monkey )
三生の小猿 尾上菊五
Ichikawa Danjūrō IX
as Jiraya
(representing the Bird )
児雷也 市川團十郎
(representing the Dog 戌)
犬上兵部 坂東彦三
Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Ibōzo Kibahachi?
(representing the Boar )
猪坊主牙七 市川團十

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #649
 Title (Description)  Sawamura Tosshō II <2>沢村 訥升 as Tora Ōmaru 虎王丸
 Series  Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac - Tiger (奇術十二支之内 寅 kijutsu jūnishi no uchi - tora) (as shown in main cartouche)
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature  Toyohara Kunichika hitsu with toshidama seal
 Seal  toshidama seal
 Publication Date
date seal 明治十年二月一日 (February 1, 1877)
 Publisher
right rectangle: 植木 林之助 Ueki Rinnosuke (Ebiya Rinnosuke) and address [Marks: seal not shown; pub. ref. 040]
left rectangle:
荒川八十八画 Arakawa Yasohachi (Kunichika's mother's surname and the artist's given name followed by the artist's address)
small rectangle: shows price of print as 2 yen.
 Carver
 Hori Yata 彫ヤタ
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent
 Genre  ukiyo-e; yakusha-e; mitate
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 5/8 in. (35.6 x 24.4 cm)
 Literature
 
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Museum 015-03; National Diet Library  http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/9369990    

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