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Family of Thieves

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Family of Thieves

by Utagawa Yoshiiku, 1874


IHL Cat. #401

About This Print

At the top of this "news nishiki'e" in the banner held aloft by two cherubs is the name of the newspaper who sponsored it, the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun 東京日々新聞.  The print is about "a married couple who are professional thieves. Reversing the 'usual' gender roles, here it is the wife who breaks into houses wearing a sword and clad in a male attire. The husband keeps watch at the door, their baby strapped to his back. The picture shows the family happily making their way home after a 'job.'"1

For a summary of the brief life of nishiki-e shinbun (newspaper color woodblock prints) see the article Nishiki-e shinbun and Newspapers in Meiji Japan.

1 Waseda University Library website http://www.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kosho/bunko10/b10_8059_22/index.html

Story Summation and Commentary by William Wetherall

Source: Nishiki-e Shinbun website of William Wetherall http://www.nishikie.com/stories/TNS-0822_family_of_thieves.html

The wife wears the sword in this family and burglarizes homes while her husband watches the street with their baby on his back. Here the family is going home after a successful heist. If caught in the act, she would probably say she was just cleaning house.

According to the seal, this nishikie was approved for publication the same month the article appeared in the newspaper.

The writer, Dondon, identifies himself as a "News bureau employee" (Shinbunkyoku no yatoido). Dondon is more fully Tentendo Dondon, aka Tentendo Shujin or just Shujin, among other pennames of the writer Takabatake Ransen, a popular writer hired by Tokyo nichinichi shinbun in 1873.


Japanese Transcription of Text

Source: University of Tokyo website http://t4.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp/archives/digital_archives/ono_collection/contents/item.6.N035.html [note: website is no longer active]

柳下恵(りうかけい)は飴(あめ)を見て嬰児(ミどりご)を養(やしな)ふに良(よし)といい。
盗跖(とうせき)は飴を以て鎖(くさり)を開(あくる)に宜(よし)と
云(いへ)り。邪正(ちやせう)に因(より)て見所(ミどころ)の
違(ちが)ふ訓(たとへ)を甘んぜず。稠粘(ねばり)付(つい)
たる夫婦中(ふうふなか)倶(とも)に悪事(あくじ)を
引延(のバ)す。夜盗(よとう)は
昼(ひる)を白玉(しらたま)飴(あめ)売歩行(うりあるき)
つつ深更(まよなか)ハ。丈夫(おとこ)に扮(いでた)つ
女房が諸方(しよはう)の豪家(がうけ)へ忍(しの)
び入を。夫(おつと)は例(いつ)も児(こ)を抱(いだ)き。
戸口を守
り竊(ぬすみ)たる
衣類(いるゐ) 調度(ちやうど)

脊(せ)に負(お)ふて。語(かたら)ひながら帰れるハ
男女(なんによ)形装(かたち)を異(こと)にして。戯場(しばゐ)に脚色し
笠(かさ)松峠(とうげ)鬼神お松に髣髴(さもに)たる。
夏目(なつめ)にあらで網(あみ)の目(め)を漏(も)れぬ
天罰(てんばつ)報(むく)ひ来て。野州(やしう)橡(とち)木の
檻中(かんちう)につながれたるは
此頃なり
新聞局の雇人 鈍々述

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #401
 Title or Description  Family of Thieves (八百廿貳号 No. 822)
 Newspaper
 Tokyo nichinichi shinbun 東京日々新聞
 Artist  Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904)
 Signature
Ikkeisai Yoshiiku ga 一恵斎芳幾画
 Seal  see above - artist's square seal reading Yoshiiku 芳幾
 Writer of Text
 Takabatake Ransen 高畠 藍泉 (1838-1885), a Tokyo nichinichi writer who wrote most of the stories that accompanied Yoshiiku's pictures for Gusokuya's Tokyo nichinichi shinbun.1
 Publication Date
October 12, 1874
 Publisher
Gusokuya 具足屋 Kahei, Ningyōchō 人形町 [Marks: pub. ref. 085; seal ref. 24-031]
 Carver
Watanabe Horiei (渡辺彫栄)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent
 Genre  ukiyo-e; nishiki-e shinbun
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 1/2 in. (35.6 x 24.1 cm)
 Literature

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library 10 08059 0022
The University of Tokyo Digital Archives Ono Hideo Collection N035; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 008-029-1; ARC 国会109-03-033; Hagi Uragami Museum U01164

1 Nishiki-e Shinbun website of William Wetherall http://www.nishikie.com/almanac/Almanac_whos_who.html

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