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Nōgakuzue, Semimaru


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Semimaru 蝉丸

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1897

Nōgakuzue, Kurama Tengu

IHL Cat. #1133

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts a scene from the play Semimaru by the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443).  

For another depiction of this play see Nōgaku hyakuban, Semimaru.

Source: The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 84.

"In the print, the shite makes his entrance with his attendants and proceeds down the bridge toward the stage proper.  The interior of the theater and the audience is also visible.  This print is noteworthy because of the portrayal of slightly anachronistic elements: the stage attendants and audience members are depicted with antiquated Edo-period hairstyles and clothing." 

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

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.

Right Margin Description of Scene
click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1133
 Title Semimaru 蝉丸 
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
 Kōgyo 耕漁
Kō / gyo seal
Seal 61 "Gyo"? in the "Seals and Signature" appendix of The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 DateThis collection's print was issued October 10, 1897 as shown in the print's left margin, as follows: 
Date of Printing: October 5, 1897 (Meiji 30)
Date of Issuance: October 10, 1897

The ARC database entry for their print arcUP0871 carries the same as this collection's print, as follows:
Printed on October 5, 1897; Issued on October 10, 1897
 Edition unknown 
 Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 日本橋区吉川町二番地 松木平吉 (in left margin) followed by Daikokuya seal,  as shown on left.  
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - album backing; full size, light soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 9 3/4 x 14 7/16 in. (24.8 x 36.7 cm)
 H x W Image
 9 x 13 1/4 in. (22.9 x 33.7 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This PrintArt Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.47; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University AcNo. arcUP0871 CoGNo. arcUP0840 AlGNo. arcUP0840; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0249; Chazen Museum of Art 1980.2553
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, cat. 29, p. 84.