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Nōgakuzue, Sotoba Komachi

Nōgakuzue, Sotoba Komachi

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Sotoba Komache 卒都婆小町

(Komachi on the Gravepost)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by TsukiokaKōgyo, 1898

Nōkaguzue, Mochizuki

IHL Cat. #945

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts a scene from the Noh play Sotoba Komache, attributed to the playwright Kanami (1333-1384).

For another print by the artist depicting this play see Nōgaku hyakuban, Sotoba Komachi.

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

The Play - Sotoba Komachi (Komachi on the Gravepost) by Kanami

On their way to the capital, a group of priests come across an old beggar woman sitting on a wooden grave marker (sotoba).  They try to chase her away, admonishing her with scriptures.  She reproaches them with even more learned quotations from scripture.  The priests are surprised and bow low in apology.  She reveals that she is Ono Komachi, the once beautiful and famous poetess.

Suddenly she is seized by the ghost of Fukakusa, the suitor who she had forced to visit her one hundred nights to gain her love.  She reenacts his miserable visits and subsequent death, in a dance.  The ghost finally leaves her, and she becomes calm once more.1

CHORUS (speaking for KOMACHI, while she, dressed as her lover Shōshō, mimes the night-journey).

Pulling down over my ears the tall, nodding hat,
Tying over my head the long sleeves of my hunting cloak,
Hidden from the eyes of men,
In moonlight, in darkness,
On rainy nights I traveled; on windy nights,
Under a shower of leaves; when the snow was deep,


And when water dripped at the roof-eaves,--tok, tok . . .2

1 Noh, Daiji Maruoka & Tatsuo Yoshikoshi, Hoikusha Publishing Co., Ltd., March 1970, p. 66.
2 The No Plays of Japan, Arthur Waley, BiblioLife, 2009 (originally 1921) p. 114.

Right Margin Description of Scene
click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #945
 Title Sotoba Komachi 卒都婆小町 (Komachi on the Gravepost)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo 耕 漁

unread red letter seal in a stupa shape
 Date明治三十一年三月十日印刷 仝年仝月十二日発行
Date of printing: March 10, 1898 (Meiji 31)
Date of issuance: trimmed from this print but likely March 12, 1898 (Meiji 31)
[Note: the print in the Ritsumeikan University collection arcUP0904 carries an issuance date of January 5, 1901 (Meiji 34) and a printing date of January 1, 1901.]
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - light offsetting; paper wrinkling left third of print
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous silver and gold metallic highlights
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 9 1/2 x 14 1/4 in. (24.1 x 36.2 cm)
 H x W Image
 8 3/8 x 13 in. (21.3 x 33 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print Art Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.61; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University arcUP0904; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0228; Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2008.1.84 and 2010.4.13
 Reference Literature
 The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, fig. 7, p. 15.