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Nōgakuzue, Ohara gokō

Nōgakuzue, Shunkan

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ohara gokō  大原御幸

(Imperial Visit to Ohara)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1899

Nōgakuzue, Tenko

IHL Cat. #206

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts the former Empress Kenrei who has become a nun with her two attendants, Lady Dainagon and Lady Awa, in her hut (represented by a bamboo framework) at a convent in the hills of Kyoto.

The text in the cartouche reads:
Earlier in this life behind the brushwood gate.
From the Capital tidings approach
sparingly woven hedges, countless the moments of
sadness like the joints in the bamoo pillars.
Rising and sitting always with
sad thought, and yet
in being free from others' eyes, we find peace.

For background on the Noh theater see the article on this site "Noh - A Brief Summary by Beata Kubiak Ho-Chi".

1 The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 79.

The Play - Ohara gokō 

After the Heike Clan were destroyed at Dannoura in 1185, the former Empress Kenrei retired to a little hut in the mountains with two of her former ladies-in-waiting, Lady Dainagon and Lady Awa, spending her days in prayer for the souls of her son the infant Emperor Antoku and her mother, drowned at Dannoura.  The empress, foreseeing defeat, had jumped into the sea with her mother and son, the child emperor. The child and his grandmother drowned, but the empress was pulled from the water by an enemy soldier.1

1 The Walters Art Museum website  http://art.thewalters.org/viewwoa.aspx?id=1530

The Play
A Court official (waki tsure1) announces that Goshirakawa, a retired emperor, is to visit Kenrei (shite2).

Kenrei's hut (tsukurimono) is revealed by uncovering the hut's framework and her way of life here is described in song.  She leaves with Lady Dainagon (tsure3) to collect herbs of the mountain to use for offerings.

Goshirakawa (tsure) and his attendants (waki4 and waki tsure) arrive by carriage, one of the attendants describing the quiet serenity and Goshirakawa reciting a poem.

Informed as to where Kenrei has gone, they wait.

Returning, the women pray for the Emperor Antoku and the Heike people who were killed. Goshirakawa's visit recalls her life at Court in contrast to the present, filling her with nostalgia.

Again in her hut, she reminisces on the days when she lived a colorful and sophisticated life as Empress. She relates her flight with her mother and her infant son, the Emperor, in company with the Heike army, until they were driven into the sea at Dannoura. Her mother leaped from a boat with the infant Emperor in her arms and both were drowned.

Kenrei also tried to drown herself but was rescued, so lives now like this in devotions and somber sadness.

1 waki tsure is the companion of the waki
2 shite is the main actor
3 tsure is the shite's companion
4 waki performs the role that is the counterpart or foil of the shite.

One of Thirteen Prints from The Lavenberg Collection

loaned to the Portland Art Museum for the

click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #206
 Title Ohara gokō 大原御幸 (Imperial Visit to Ohara)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
White letter seal in a rectangular shape with double border: 湖畔 [Kōhan]
Kōhan [ 湖畔], seal no. 59, 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 Printed on January 10, 1899 / Issued on January 15, 1899 (Meiji 32)
明治三十二年一月十日 印刷仝年仝月十五日発行 

The ARC database entry for their print arcUP0748 carries the same dates as this collections print, as follows: 
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - not trimmed; not backed, minor soiling, light toning, several spots of foxing
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous Background is covered with light small checkerboard embossing.
Portland Art Museum loan number L2012.113.1
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 9 7/8 x 14 3/4 in. (25.1 x 37.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 8 3/4 x 13 in. (22.2 x 33 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print The British Museum 1949,0409,0.27; The Walters Art Museum 95.247; Art Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.112; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University arcUP0748, UP0957; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 53.2928.13; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0289.
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 79, pl. 24.