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Nōgaku hyakuban, Kazuraki


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kazuraki 葛城

No. 44 from the series Nōgaku hyakuban

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1924

IHL Cat. #283

About This Print

One of 120 prints issued as part of the series Nōgaku hyakuban (One Hundred Prints of Noh), it depicts a scene from the play Kazuraki by the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443) in which an old woman gives shelter from the snow to a priest and two attendant priests, building a fire with shimoto.  This print was originally released by the publisher Matsuki Heikichi in the fifteenthinstallment of prints in this series.  This series' prints were offered in monthly installments consisting of three prints packaged in an envelope with additional descriptive information.1  

For another rendition of this play by the artist see IHL Cat. #998.

The Play - Kazuraki 

Source: Hirotakansyokai website http://hirota-kansyokai.la.coocan.jp/eibun/images/5kaiKazuraki.pdf

A traveling monk leaves Mt. Haguro (in Yamagata-Prefecture) on his pilgrimage to Kazuraki-Shrine.  Having arrived at Mt. Kazuraki in Yamato (in present-day Nara Prefecture), and after crossing over the peaks of mountains, he is suddenly caught in a heavy snowfall and loses his way.  A local woman with a bundle of sticks on her back finds him in trouble, and feels pity for him.  She offers him to stay overnight at her humble cottage down in a shadowy valley, and entertains him by building a fire with shimoto - a bundle of sticks collected in deep snow, much famed in Mt. Kazuraki.  Not knowing what it is, he asks her about it. She explains, citing an old waka-poem, that the sticks bound together by a creeper reed became so famous as to be commonly associated in their minds with the mountain, and narrates tenderly of poetry and Yamato dances.  At last she tells that she, the Kazuraki Goddess, was ordered by En no Gyoja2 to build a rock bridge from Mt. Kazuraki to Mt. Ohmine, but failed in doing so because she did not want to work during the day, hating to expose her ugly looks to the world.  Thus she incurred his anger and was bound to eternal agony and suffering. She, therefore, begs him to free her from bondage.

In the stillness of night, as his clothes dry out, the monk starts his religious service.  Drawn by the healing power of the religious chanting, the woman appears in the shape of the goddess, and, freed from her bonds, performs before him the Yamato dance in the snow and in the moonlight, so gracefully as if surveying the whole expanse of the Yamato field from a mountain top.  As the early light of dawn approaches, however, she hides herself in a rock cave, fearing to expose her looks. (summary by Takao Saijo)

1“The series Nogaku hyakuban (100 No plays) by Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927),” Claus-Peter Schulz, Andon 67, Society for Japanese Arts, p. 28.
2 En no Gyoja: a semi-legendary sorcerer endowed with supernatural powers, would order spirits and demons to do his bidding, and when they refused, he would bind them to a spell.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #283
 Title Kazuraki 葛城
 Series Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (One Hundred Prints of Noh or One Hundred Noh Plays)
 TsukiokaKōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo, seal no. 46, p. 171 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 Date August 1924
 Edition likely first edition
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - not backed or trimmed
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban tate-e
 H x W Paper 14 7/8 x 10 in. (37.8 x 25.4 cm)
 Collections This PrintScripps College 2007.1.58; Art Institute of Chicago 1943.834.8
 Reference Literature