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Nōgakuzue, Tōbōsaku

Nōgakuzue, Sotoba Komachi

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Tōbōsaku 東方朔

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1899

Nōgakuzue, Tenko

IHL Cat. #1011

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts a scene from the Noh play Tōbōsaku, attributed to the playwright Komparu Zempō (金春 禅鳳 1454-1520).

As Tobosaku dances in his voluminous court robes, the chorus in this play relates an ancient Chinese legend. When the Queen Mother of the West visited the court of Emperor Wu Ti, she brought ten peaches, each of which would bring three thousand years of life to the eater. Tobosaku (Tung Fang-so in Chinese) stole three peaches and ate them, thus attaining virtual immortality. The actor playing Tobosaku wears the mask of a happy old man. At left is a hanging scroll depicting a descending phoenix-an emblem of imperial authority as well as a vehicle for immortals.

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

The Play - Tōbōsaku (Tung-fang so)

Sources: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 190-191.


 Act 1

Act 2
an official
the Emperor
two ministers
a man
an old man
several hermits
the spirit of peach stones

While an Emperor in ancient China is celebrating the Star Festival, an old man comes to say that the bird which has been flying over the Palace recently is a sign that Sei-ōbo (Hsi Wang Mu), who comes down to earth only once in every three thousand years, will shortly appear with a peach that will ensure long life to whoever eats it.  He himself is the hermit Tōbō-saku (Tung-fang So), he adds, and promises to return shortly with Sei-ōbo.  Both come to the Palace later and after the peach is offered up to the Emperor, the two of them dance together.

Right Margin Description of Scene
click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1011
 Title Tōbōsaku 東方朔
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
 Kōgyo 耕漁 
White letter seal in a rectangular shape with double border: 湖畔 [Kohan]
Rekizan, seal no. 59, p. 171 in 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 is dated Meiji 31, 1899, as follows: 
明治三十日印刷 Date of Printing: March 5, 1899 (Meiji 32)
明治三十発行 Date of Issue: March 10, 1899 (Meiji 32)

The ARC database entry for their print arcUP0756 carries the same dates as this collection's print, as follows: 

The ARC database entry for their print arcUP0965 carries a one month later date than this collection's print, as follows:
Date of Printing: April 15, 1899; Date of Issuance: April 20, 1899.
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - backed with heavy album paper; soiling; minor toning
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous embossing
 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 7/8 x 12 7/8 in. (22.5 x 32.7 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print Art Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.120; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University AcNo.arcUP0756 CoGNo.arcUP0735AlGNo.arcUP0735 and
AcNo.arcUP0965 CoGNo.arcUP0840AlGNo.arcUP0840; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0297; Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College 2011.11.23; The Walters Art Museum 95.255; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 53.2928.21
 Reference Literature