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Nōgaku hyakuban, Ōmu Komachi


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ōmu Komachi 鸚鵡小町

(Komachi's Parrot Poem)

No. 117 from the series Nōgaku hyakuban

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1926

IHL Cat. #161

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 Ōmu Komachi attributed to the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443) in which Omu Komachi, skilled in the art of conversation and ingenious in her poetry, receives a poem sent her by the Emperor Yōzei. She "parrots" it back to the Emperor with only one character altered.  This print was originally released by the publisher Matsuki Heikichi in the thirty-ninthinstallment 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 - Ōmu Komachi (Komachi's Parrot Poem)

Source: GloPad Global Performing Database website http://www.glopad.org/pi/en/record/piece/1000345 Copyright 1998-2006, Global Performing Arts Consortium. All Rights Reserved.
In her old age, the famous Heian poet Ono no Komachi (shite) lives in Sekidera, a temple at the border-pass between the capital and Otsu on Lake Biwa.  Emperor Yōzei sends Major Counselor Yukiie (waki) to enquire sympathetically how she is.  His poem ends: "mishi tamadare no uchi ya yukashisa" (Was not life enchanting there / within the jeweled curtains?).  Yukiie delivers the Emperor's poem, but Komachi tells him that she will answer with just one word. To the courtier's astonishment, she explains how this is possible by changing "ya" to "zo," so that the answer reads: "How enchanting life was there!" This, she explains is an "ōmu-gaeshi" ("parrot-answer poem"). The rest of the play touches on the comments made about Komachi's poetry in the preface to the Kokinwakashū. She describes a dance by the poet Ariwara no Narihira, then dances herself (jo-no-mai). Yukiie takes his leave and Komachi returns to her simple brushwood dwelling by the temple, her sleeves wet with tears.

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 #161
 Title Ōmu Komachi 鸚鵡小町 (Komachi's Parrot Poem)
 Series Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (One Hundred Prints of Noh or One Hundred Noh Plays)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Taiso, seal no. 4, 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 August 1926
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - some wrinkling in left corner, minor soiling along top, several spots of foxing, cellophane tape remnants on verso, untrimmed and not backed
 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 2003.1.18; Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1997.254.34; Art Institute of Chicago 1943.834.33
 Reference Literature