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Nōga taikan, Kanawa


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kanawa 鉄輪

(The Iron Crown)

from the series Nōga taikan

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1925-1930

IHL Cat. #146

About This Print

One of 200 prints issued as part of the series ga taikan (Encyclopedia of Noh Plays), it depicts a scene from the play Kanawa by an unknown author*, in which a woman, spurned by her husband, kneeling before an altar, wears an iron crown topped with burning tapers that will allow her to avenge her wrong. 

For another depiction of this play by the artist see Nōgakuzue, Kanawa.

* sometimes attributed to the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443)

The Play - Kanawa 鉄輪  (The Iron Crown)

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p.69-70.

A woman whose husband has cast her off and taken another wife comes to the shrine of Kibune at the hour of the ox (2 a.m.) to seek help in revenging herself on him.  Speaking through an official of the shrine, the god tells her that if she puts on an iron crown surmounted by three burning tapers, she will turn into a devil and thus be able to achieve her purpose.  Her former husband is shown some time later seeking advice from the wise man Abe no Seimei about nightmares which have been troubling him.  He learns that they are due to the hatred of a woman and that very night his life is in danger.  Seimei promises to use all his power of prayer to try to save him and when the woman, now a devil, appears to claim her victim, there is a struggle in which she is finally subdued.

Dialogue between the Shinto Priest and Woman

Excuse me, but I would like to tell you something.  Are you not the lady who comes from Kyoto to worship around 2 a.m.  I have something to tell you.  Tonight, I received a divine message about you in my dream.  Your wish has been granted.  Please stop visiting the shrine after tonight.  As you wish to become a demon, you will be able to do so.  Go home first, make and put on a red kimono, spread red powder on your face, and put an iron trivet on your head.  If you put lights on the legs of the trivet and have rage in your heart, you will immediately be able to become a demonic spirit as you wish.  Rush home now and follow the divine message.  Nonetheless, what a very mysterious message this is.1

Performance of Kanawa

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #146
 Title Kanawa 鉄輪  (The Iron Crown)
 Series Nōga taikan 能画大鑑 (Encyclopedia of Noh Plays or A Great Mirror of Noh Pictures or A Great Collection of Noh Pictures)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
 Date 1925-1930
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Seibi Shoten (or Seibi Shoin), Tokyo
 Carver Uchida Eikichi
 Printer Yoshida Takesaburō
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - small 1/4" spot of discoloration; not backed
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 10 x 14 1/8 in. (25.4 x 35.9 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 107.