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Nōga taikan, Yumi Yawata


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Yumi Yawata 弓八幡 (The Bow at Hachiman)

from the series Nōga taikan

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1925-1930

Nōga taikan, Kamo Monogurui

IHL Cat. #1660

About This Print

One of 200 prints issued as part of the series Nōga taikan (Encyclopedia of Noh Plays) depicting  a scene from the play Yumi Yawata by the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443).  For another print depicting a scene from this play see Nōgaku hyakuban, Yumi yawata.

The Play - Yumi Yawata (The Bow at Hachiman) by Zeami

Yumi Yawata is a two act play centering on a warrior’s bow wrapped in a brocade bag.  The maejite, an old man, appears with the bow at the Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine in Kyoto and presents it to the waki, a retainer of the Ex-Emperor Gouda (1267-1324), to be offered up to His Majesty.  As the shite explains: “Among the historical precedents of the land of China, brought to peaceful rule under the Zhou, one finds the precedent of wrapping one’s bow and arrows in a bag and shutting away one’s lance and shield.  Accordingly, I have stuffed this bow into a bag and put my sword away in a box; these very actions are a sign of our lord’s age of great peace.”1

According to the recorded words of Zeami, the author of the play, the play was written “in honor of the inaugural celebration for the reign of the present shogun."  However, it has been surmised that the play has imperial overtones and is anti-shogunal, the following passage (sung by the shite) being cited:

May the emperor’s reign endure
For a thousand years,
For thousands of years,
Till small pebbles become a large boulder
Covered with moss.
May it endure forever
Like the color of the pine needles
On Eternity Mountain.
The azure sky is calm,
The emperor secure,
The people are kind-hearted,
Passes have not been closed.
From the beginning, our has been a land
Where the gods protect the emperor
The vow of this god in particular
Illumines the night
Like the light of the moon.
The waters of Iwashimizu flow ceaselessly,
And as long as the stream runs on
Living beings are released.
How glorious is the god’s compassion!
Truly this is an auspicious time.2

Zeami's Style: The Noh Plays of Zeami Motokiyo, Thomas Blenman Hare, Stanford University Press, 1986, p. 104.
2 Theatricalities of Power: The Cultural Politics of Noh, Steven T. Brown, Stanford University Press, 2001, p. 95-96.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1660
 Title Yumi yawata 弓八幡 (The Bow at the Hachiman Shrine)
 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)
 Kōgyo 耕漁 (see image below)
Kōgyo seal, seal no. 13, p. 170 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 Date 1926
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Seibi Shoten 精美書院 (or Seibi Shoin), Tokyo
 Carver Uchida Eikichi
 Printer Yoshida Takesaburō
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - minor toning; minor marks
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format ōban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 10 1/16 x 14 1/2 in. (25.6 x 36.8 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature