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Nōgakuzue, Shōjō


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Shōjō 猩々

(The Tippling Elf)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1898

Nōgakuzue, Shunkan

IHL Cat. #1818

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh), depicting a scene from the play Shōjōwritten by Komparu Zenchiku (1405-1470?), in which Shōjō, an ocean dweller who looks like an orangutan, dances drunkenly for his friend Kōfū the liquor seller before an inexhaustible pot of wine.

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

Museum Commentary:
Chinese mythical creatures called xing xing are thought to be wine loving red haired apes, often associated with the orangutan. In this print, Kōgyo shows the real ape at left and the actor at right, who dances before an enormous wine pot.                  

Right Margin Description of Scene
click on image to enlarge

The Play -  Shōjō

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 163-164.

Waki - Kō-fū, a wine dealer
Shite - an elf-like creature

A man named Kō-fū, living in ancient China, explains that by following a dream which he had in reward for his filial piety and which told him to sell wine in the market, he has become a prosperous man.  At the market, there is one particular person who always comes to him to buy wine, and since he told the dealer that he is an elf living in the sea, the man has come down to the estuary to wait for him to appear.  When he does so, red-faced from his drinking, the man serves him with wine and watches him dance.  The elf, in return, gives him a well of wine which never runs dry.

This drama is filled with a celebratory atmosphere. It is often performed with Kogaki or special staging features, whose performances are called “Midare” or “Shōjō-midare”. When this piece is performed in these special styles, the shite or protagonist performs a unique dance, “midare” instead of chū-no-mai. In this case, this drama is called “Midare” or “Shōjō-midare”, not “Shōjō”, in the program. “Midare” and “Shōjō-midare” are categorized as one of the hiraki-mono, the group of Noh dramas which demand highly advanced technique and psychological maturity of the performers. It therefore requires special training to perform. Other than this unique dance, the other special staging features include funny ones, such as showing wine jars and bringing many Shōjō on the stage.  

The story is simple, therefore the focal point is not in the storyline but rather in the expression of the celebrating, auspicious atmosphere. Please enjoy the dance of joy of Shōjō, a winsome monster with a red face.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1927
 Title Shōjō 猩々 (The Tippling Elf)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo 耕漁
 Seal Square Baku seal (as shown above)
 Seal No. 61 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 170.
Printed on March 10, 1898 / Issued on March 15, 1898
明治三十一年三月十日印刷 / 仝年三月十五日発行
 Edition unknown
Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029] followed by Daikokuya seal.  
 Address: 日本橋区吉川町二番地
 Impression good
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - toning and minor soiling throughout; not backed; full size
 Genre  nishiki-e; 能楽図絵 Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Miscellaneous The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston notes Part I, Section II, zenpen, ge, 前編、下
 Format ōban 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 13/16 x 12 7/8 in. (22.4 x 32.7 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This PrintArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University arcUP0943 (February 15, 1899); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2006.11068 (March 10, 1898); Art Institute Chicago 1939.2258.100 (1898?); University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0271 (March 20, 1898); Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2010.4.52 (May 10, 1898); Smithsonian Institution Freer/Sackler S2003.8.2889 (March 20, 1898); Japan Arts Council BK014-118 (?)
 Reference Literature
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