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Nōgakuzue, Tenko


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Tenko 天鼓

(The Drum From Heaven)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1899

Nōgakuzue, Tsūen

IHL Cat. #946

IHL Cat. #1925

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh). The print depicts a scene from the play Tenko, attributed to the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443), in which Tenko's father appears before an Emperor's official to play his son's drum.   For another depiction of this play see IHL Cat. #1814 Tenko (The Drum from Heaven) by Hasegawa Sadanobu III (Konobu III) (1881-1963).

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

Museum Commentary:
Source: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery http://web-kiosk.scrippscollege.edu/Obj22368?sid=12048&x=13846460

Buddhist texts describe a tenko drum that makes divine music. In the play, an official in the court of the Chinese Emperor (seated in the foreground) relates how such a drum appeared in a dream to a woman when she conceived her son. The baby boy was named “Tenko,” and when a drum magically appeared, he could make celestial sounds. The Emperor demanded the drum for himself, but Tenko refused to give it up and was consequently killed. The drum then became mute, so the Emperor had the boy’s father brought to court to play it (the scene shown here). The old man mourns his lost son, and then beats the drum, which makes a wonderful sound that testifies to the deep love of father and son. Later in the play, the spirit of Tenko appears and dances joyfully. 

The Play - Tenko

Source: A Guide to Kyogen, Don Kenny, Hinoki Shoten, 1968, p. 188-189.
Act 1: Waki - an Imperial envoy
          Shite - an old man, the father of Tenko
          Kyōgen - a servant
Act 2: Nochi-shite - the ghost of Tenko

Aboy name Tenko has a wonderful drum which had come down from Heaven, but when this was taken from him to be presented to the Emperor he drowned himself.  An Imperial envoy tells this story and explains that as no one has been able to make any sound come from the drum since it was taken to the Palace, he has been sent to fetch the father of Tenko.  Together they go to the Palace, and when the father strikes the drum it gives out such a miraculous sound that he is promised a rich reward and a musical performance is arranged to placate the soul of his son.  When this is done, the ghost of Tenko comes and dances before them.

For additional information on this play go to the Noh Plays DataBase website http://www.the-noh.com/en/plays/data/program_021.html

Right Margin Description of Scene

(click on image to enlarge)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #946
 Title Tenko 天鼓 (The Drum From Heaven)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo 耕 漁
Red letter seal in an irregular oval shape: 歴山 [Rekizan] 
[ref. seal #89, p. 172 in The Beauty of Silence]
 DatePrinted on June 1, 1899 (Meiji 32) / Issue date June 5, 1899
明治三十二年六月一日 印刷 / 仝年仝月五日発行  (note: issue date is trimmed and not visible on this collection's print)

The ARC database entry for their print arcUP0974 carries the following dates:
Printed on June 1, 1899 (Meiji 32) / Issue date June 5, 1899
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Impression IHL Cat. #946: excellent
 IHL Cat. #1925: excellent
 Colors IHL Cat. #946: excellent
 IHL Cat. #1925: excellent
 Condition IHL Cat. #946: good - minor soiling; wrinkling of paper left 1/3 of print; left margin partially trimmed
 IHL Cat. #1925: good - minor soiling; album backing paper; left margin trimmed
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper IHL Cat. #946: 9 9/16 x 14 1/16 in. (24.3 x 35.7 cm)
 IHL Cat. #1925: 9 1/2 x 13 15/16 in. (24.1 x 35.4 cm)
 H x W Image
 IHL Cat. #946: 8 15/16 x 12 15/16 in. (22.7 x 32.9 cm) area within printed black border
 IHL Cat. #1925: 8 15/16 x 12 15/16 in. (22.7 x 32.9 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print University of Pittsburgh Special Collections 20091209-kogyo-0310; Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2011.11.32; Art Institute Chicago 1939.2258.129; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University
AcNo.arcUP0765 CoGNo.arcUP0735AlGNo.arcUP0735 and AcNo.arcUP0974 CoGNo.arcUP0840AlGNo.arcUP0840; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-4972; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 53.2928.30; The Walters Art Museum 95.264    
 Reference Literature
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