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Nōgaku hyakuban, Mekari


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Mekari 和布刈

(The Seaweed Gatherer)

No. 108 from the series Nōgaku hyakuban

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1926

Nōgaku hyakuban, Torioibune

IHL Cat. #270

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 Mekari by the playwright Komparu Zenchiku (1405-c. 1470).  This print was originally released by the publisher Matsuki Heikichi in the thirty-sixthinstallment 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 

The Play - Mekari (The Seaweed Gatherer) by Komparu Zenchiku

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p.106-107.

On the last day of every year the priest of the Hayamoto Myōjin Shrine performed a ceremony of gathering seaweed and offering it up at the shrine.  While he is preparing to do so this one year, a woman and an old fisherman appear and tell him a story of long ago.  The land god Hōdemi married Princess Toyotama, daughter of the Sea God, and land and sea were as one.  But when Hōdemi disobeyed her and looked at her when she was giving birth, she returned to her home in the sea and it was forever shut off from the land.  Nevertheless, the priest is told, a way will be opened into the sea at the time of the ceremony so that the seaweed may be safely gathered.  Then, revealing that the woman is a goddess and the old man a dragon-god, they disappear.  Later the dragon-god and his daughter Toyotama come forth in their true forms.  The waves recede for the priest to gather the seaweed, but once this is done they surge back again and the dragon-gods return to the depth of the sea.

1 “The series Nogaku hyakuban (100 No plays) by Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927),” Claus-Peter Schulz, Andon 67, Society for Japanese Arts, p. 28.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #270
 Title Mekari 和布刈 (The Seaweed Gatherer)
 Series Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (One Hundred Prints of Noh or One Hundred Noh Plays)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Tsukioka, seal no. 28, 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 May 1926
 Edition unknown
 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 2007.1.47; Art Institute of Chicago 1943.833.47; Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University 2004.43
 Reference Literature