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Nōgakuzue, Ema


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ema  絵馬

(The Votive Tablets)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by TsukiokaKōgyo, 1899

Nōgakuzue, Oba ga sake

IHL Cat. #888

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts the Sun goddess Amaterasu, the goddess Uzume and the god Tajikarao in the Noh play Ema (The Votive Tablets), by an unknown writer.  The two votive tablets fortelling good fortune are pictured in the upper right.

Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927) depicted this print in each of his three major series on Noh.  To view these prints see Nōga taikan, Ema and Nōgaku hyakuban, Ema.

The Play - Ema

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 26-28.

An Imperial emissary on his way to the Great Shrines of Ise stops overnight at Saikū nearby as it happens to be the last day of winter and he hopes to see something of the votive tablets which are said to be hung up there during that particular night to foretell the fortunes of the coming year, a white one indicating sunny weather and a black one rain.  He meets an old couple with such tablets who, after some discussion, agree to put up one of each kind to signify good fortune for everyone.  They then disappear into the darkness after telling him that they are in fact two of the gods of Ise.  In the second part Amaterasu, the Sun-goddess, appears with the goddess Uzume and the god Tajikarao and performs a dance.  The three of them then depict the ancient story of Amaterasu’s withdrawal into a cave: as the world is plunged into darkness by her disappearance, the other gods dance and make merry and eventually succeed in enticing her out again by arousing her curiosity.

Right Margin Description of Scene

click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #888
 Title Ema 絵馬 (The Votive Tablets)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo 耕 漁
Red letter seal in a round shape: 湖畔 [Kohan]
unread, seal no. 6, p. 170 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 DateDate is trimmed from this print.
Ritsumeikan ARC gives the dates of printing and issuance of their prints (arcUP1036 and arcUP0827), as follows:

Date of printing: December 20, 1899 (Meiji 32)
Date of issuance: Decmeber 25, 1899
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 (note: left margin which normally contains the publisher's information is trimmed on this print.)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - backed by heavy paper; left margin trimmed
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous silver and gold metallic highlights on robes
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 9 1/2 x 13 7/8 in. (24.1 x 35.2 cm)
 H x W Image
 8 7/8 x 12 7/8 in. (22.5 x 32.7 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print Art Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.188; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University AcNo.arcUP1036 CoGNo.arcUP0840AlGNo.arcUP0840 and
AcNo.arcUP0827 CoGNo.arcUP0735AlGNo.arcUP0735; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0379; Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2009.7.38;; Japan Arts Council BK014-225
 Reference Literature