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Nōgaku hyakuban, Semimaru


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Semimaru  蝉丸

No. 47 from the series Nōgaku hyakuban

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1924

IHL Cat. #328

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 Semimaru by the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443). This print was originally released by the publisher Matsuki Heikichi in the sixteenth installment 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 depiction of this play by the artist see Nōgakuzue, Semimaru.  For another depiction of this play see the print see Nōga taikan, Semimaru by Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963). For another treatment of this story see Semimaru by Suga Tatehiko (1878-1963).

The Play - Semimaru by Zeami

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p.154-155.

Fourth Group
All schools

Tsure - Prince Semimaru
Waki - a Court Official
Wak-tsure - two bearers
Kyōgen - Hakuga no Sanmmi
Shite - Princess Sakagami

On the order of the Emperor Daigo, a Court official takes Prince Semimaru, who has been blind since he was a child, to Ōsaka-yama and leaves him there with only his lute to comfort him.  The Prince accepts his lot with resignation, feeling that his blindness is the result of some failure of his in a previous existence, and that the present apparent cruelty of his father is only due to a desire to help him gain a happier fate in a future life.  Meanwhile, his sister Princess Sakagami has gone out of her mind and is now a wild-haired figure, wandering aimlessly from place to place.  She comes one day to Ōsaka-yama and, attracted by the sound of Semimaru's lute, finds her brother again.  For a while they forget their loneliness as they talk together and comfort each other, but then the Princess leaves him and continues her sad wanderings.

1 “The series Nogaku hyakuban (100 No plays) by Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927),” Claus-Peter Schulz, Andon 67, Society for Japanese Arts, p. 28.
Noh performance of Semimaru by Kanze Tetsunojo February 1968
Copyright 1998-2006, Global Performing Arts Consortium

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #328
 Title Semimaru 蝉丸
 Series Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (One Hundred Prints of Noh or One Hundred Noh Plays)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo (?) seal no. 72, p. 172 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 Date September 1924
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - slightly trimmed; not backed
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban tate-e
 H x W Paper 14 3/4 x 10 in. (37.5 x 25.4 cm)
 Collections This PrintScripps College 2007.1.35; Art Institute of Chicago 1943.833.35
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 84.