Bandō Hikosaburō V as Inugami Hyōbu from the series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The actor Bandō Hikosaburō V as Inugami Hyōbu

from the series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1877

IHL Cat. #650

About This Print

Theactor Bandō Hikosabu V (1832-1877) as Inugami Hyōbu.  Several sources describe this scene as being from the Hakkenden (Eight Dog Heroes) and one describes it as being from the kabuki play Ogasawara Shorei no Okunote (Ceremonial Secrets of the Ogasawara Family), but I do not know of any versions of these tales that contain the character Inugami Hyōbu.  Anyhow, Inugami no Hyōbu has conjured a pack of dogs that arise out of the mist.  The printer has skillful used the technique of bokashi (gradation of shade) to render the dogs.

For a profile of Bandō Hikosaburō V 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 five prints from the series: Sawamura Tosshō II as Tora ŌmaruIchikawa Sadanji as the monk Raigo AjariBandō Hikosaburō as Unryū KūrōOnoe Kikugorō V as Mibu no Kozaru and Bandō Hikosaburō as Inugami HyōbuTo see all twelve prints from the series go to Sawamura Tosshō II as Tora Ōmaru

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. 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #650
 Title (Description) Bandō Hikosaburō V 坂東 彦三郎 as Inugami Hyōbu 犬上 兵部
 Series Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac - Dog (奇術十二支之内 戌  kijutsu jūnishi no uchi - Inu) (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)
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)

Hori Yata (Watanabe Yatarō 1850-1913)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e; mitate
 2 sen 二銭 (the price of this print) appears in cartouche below carver's seal
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 5/8 in. (35.6 x 24.4 cm)
 Decadence and Dissolution: Tattoo and Kabuki Art by Kunichika, Ukiyoe-Master Series: Volume Four, Jack Hunter, ed., Solar Books, 2012
 Collections This Print
 National Diet Library   
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