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Nōgakuzue, Sesshōseki


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Sesshōseki  殺生石

(Death Rock)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by TsukiokaKōgyo, 1898

Nōgakuzue, Sotoba Komachi

IHL Cat. #886

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts a scene from the Noh play Sesshōseki (Death Rock), sometimes attributed to the playwright Sa-ami (15th c.), in which the fox spirit emerges from the Death Rock. 

For another print depicting this play see Nōgaku hyakuban, Sesshōseki.

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

The Play - Sesshōseki

Source: The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 118.
On his way from the northern provinces to the capital, the priest Gennō (waki) comes to a place called Nasuno, where there is a large rock.  He is surprised when a bird flying over the rock suddenly falls dead.  A local woman (shite) appears and warns him against approaching the rock, known locally as the "death rock" because it contains the evil spirit of a golden-haired fox which kills any living creature that approaches it.  She explains that long ago a spirit was chased from the palace for threatening the life of the emperor and it hid in the "death rock."  As Gennō prays for the spirit, the rock splits in two and the spirit emerges.  It confesses that it has killed many over the years, but promises to cease forthwith.

For more details of this play see the-NOH.com website http://www.the-noh.com/en/plays/data/program_045.html

When Gennō prays for the soul to become a Buddha, the rock splits open and the ghost of the fox appears.
Source: the-NOH.com   http://www.the-noh.com/en/plays/photostory/ps_045.html

Right Margin Description of Scene

click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #886
 Title Sesshōseki 殺生石 (Death Rock)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
 Kōgyo 耕 漁 (signature is printed in what appears to be a gold metallic ink making it very difficult to see or photograph)
Red letter seal in a stone shape: 辯 [Ben]
 DateDate is trimmed from this print.
Ritsumeikan ARC gives the dates of printing and issuance of their print (arcUP0873), as follows:  明治三十一年一月十日印刷 仝年仝月十五日発行
Date of printing: January 10, 1898 (Meiji 31)
Date of issuance: January 15, 1898 (Meiji 31)
 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 metallic highlights on robe fox spirit robe
 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 131/8 in. (22.5 x 33.3 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print Art Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.18; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University AcNo.arcUP0873 CoGNo.arcUP0840AlGNo.arcUP0840; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0193
 Reference Literature
 The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, ill. 66a, p. 118.