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Kyōgen Gojuban, Ushi nusubito from the series Kyōgen Gojuban

 

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ushi nusubito 牛盗人 (The Cow Thief)

from the series Kyōgen Gojuban

by Tsukioka Gyokusei, 1927


IHL Cat. #623

About This Print

One of thirty-four prints designed by Tsukioka Gyokusei (1908-1994) in the series Kyōgen Gojuban (Fifty Kyogen Plays) started by her father Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927).   Tsukioka Kōgyo designed sixteen prints for the series before his death.

For information on the series Kyōgen Gojuban, see the section Final Series of Prints (1927) - Kyōgen gojūban (Fifty Kyōgen Plays) under the artist Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927).

The Play - Ushi nusubito

Source: A Guide to Kyogen, Don Kenny, Hinoki Shoten, 1968, p.285-286.
"The Cow Keeper for the Emperor discovers that one of the Emperor's cows has been stolen.  He puts up a sign declaring whoever will give information as to the identity or the whereabouts of the Thief will be forgiven any crime, or given anything he asks for.

Before long a Child appears, saying that he wishes to report the name and the whereabouts of the thief.  He says the thief is Hy
ōgo Saburō who lives in the next village.

The Cow Keeper sends Tar
ō Kaja and Jirō Kaja to go arrest the culprit.  They soon drag him in, and before long he confesses his crime.  He also reveals to them the fact that the Child is his son.  He curses and disowns his Child for being a traitor.

They ask him why he stole the cow, and he says it was to pay for a memorial service for his father, and goes on to recite a passage from Buddhist scripture which would seem to sanction such an action.  The Cow Keeper says that no matter, the crime is still the same according to law, and
Hyōgo Saburō must be put to death.

At this point the Child speaks up demanding his reward.  They ask him what he wants, and he answers, 'The life of
Hyōgo Saburō spared.'  He goes on to explain that when he saw the sign, he decided that this was the only ways to save his Father's life.  Father and Son burst into tears.  The Father pleads for forgiveness from his Sony for his harsh words of a few minutes before.  The Cow Keeper and his servants are moved by this display of the Child's love for his Father.  They grant him full pardon, and Father and Son set out for home singing for joy."

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #623
 Title Ushi nusubito牛盗人 (The Cow Thief)
 Series Kyōgen Gojuban 狂言五十番 (Fifty Kyogen Plays)
 Artist 
 Tsukioka Gyokusei (1908-1994)
 Signature 
 Kōbun 江 文
 Seal
Red letter seal in an irregular shape: 江彣 [Kōbun]
 Date 1927
 Edition likely first and only
 Publisher 
Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya) and fan seal to right of artist's signature
 Carver 
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - crimp in paper lower left-hand corner
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 10 x 15 in. (25.4 x 38.1 cm)
 Collections This Print Art Institute of Chicago 1943.832.18; University of Pittsburgh (as part of a bound volume of the entire series Kyōgen gojūban) 20101012-kogyo-0061
 Reference Literature 
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