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Rokkasen Kyōga no Suminuri

Famous Places, Azuma Bridge in Tokyo
 

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Rokkasen Kyōga no Suminuri

by Utagawa Kunimasa IV, 1880

Kami-no Megumi Wagō-no Torikumi


IHL Cat. #1176

About This Print


Staged in March 1880, at the Shintomiza 新富 in Tokyo, this dance play was a mitate (parody) on the theme of the Six Immortal Poets (rokkasen). 

Pictured in the roles of the Six Immortal Poets are the actors (from right to left):

Iwai Hanshirō VIII 岩井半四郎 as the lady Ono no Komachi 小野小町
Onoe Kigugorō V 尾上菊五郎 as Hōshi [priest] Kisen 喜撰法師 
Ichikawa Sadanji 市川左団次 as the evil noble Ōtomo no Kuronushi 大伴黒主
Nakamura Sōjūrō 中村宗十郎 as Sōjō [abbot] Henjō 僧正遍昭
Ichikawa Danjūrō 市川団十郎 as the noble Bunya Yasuhide 文屋康秀
Bandō Kakitsu 坂東家橘 as the courtier Ariwara no Narihira 在原業平

This play was staged as early as January 1872 at the Murayama-za, as shown in the below portion of a kabuki playbill (tsuji banzuke) from the theatre. 



The Six Immortal Poets
Source: http://www.osakaprints.com/content/artists/info_pp/hokumyo_info/hokumyo_02.htm

The Rokkasen (Six Immortal Poets: 六歌仙) were ninth-century literary giants whose names were first linked together in the poetic anthology Kokin wakashû (Collection of ancient and modern poems: 古今集) in 905 AD. The term kasen (immortals of waka, 和歌, or Japanese poems) was derived from the Chinese term shixian (Immortals of poems: 詩仙) and may have been adopted for the Rokkasen by the mid-10th century. There were various dance plays performed (in Edo), such as Rokkasen sugata no irodori (Six immortal poets in the guises of love) in 3/1834. A much earlier Osaka version called Yosooi rokkasen (Six poets in colorful attire) was staged in 1789 by Arashi Hinasuke I (1741-96). For a later version, Nakamura Shikan II retained Hinasuke’s structure but had the play re-choreographed and set to new music. The dances were fanciful mixtures of modernized domestic tales (mostly involving unrequited love for Komachi) and historical legends. The dance roles were usually performed in the manner of hengemono (transformation pieces) employing hayagawari (quick-change techniques).



The Actors Pictured

For background on the actors pictured see their respective entries in the article The Kabuki Actor on this site.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1176
 Title (Description) Rokkasen kyōga no suminuri 六歌仙狂画墨塗 ろっかせんきょうがのすみぞめ
 The Six Immortal Poets...
 Artist Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920)
 Signature
梅堂国政 筆 Baidō Kunimasa hitsu with Toshidama seal
 Seal Toshidama seal beneath signature as shown above
 Publication Date
March 13?, 1880 (Meiji 13)
 Publisher
Tsujiokaya Bunsuke 辻岡 文助 [Marks: seal not shown; pub. ref. 548]

right half - publisher: 出板 [shuppan] 辻岡 文助 [Tsujiokaya Bunsuke] followed by address
left half - artist: 画工 [gakō] 竹内栄久 [Takenōchi Hidehisa, artist's birth name] followed by address 横山町三丁目二番地 [Yokoyamachō Sanchōme 2-banchi] 
 Carver
Carver 彫工 [hori] 片田長治郎 [Katada Chōjirō]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - full size; unbacked; minor damage to some print margins
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Miscellaneous 
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 14 1/4 x 10 in. (36.2 x 25.4 cm) each sheet
 Literature 
 
 Collections This Print
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 101-6180, 6181, 6182
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