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Nōgakuzue, Yōkihi

Nōgakuzue, Shunkan

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Yōkihi 楊貴妃

(The Chinese Beauty Yang Guifei)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1898

Nōgakuzue, Kazuraki

IHL Cat. #1927

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh), depicting a scene from the play Yōkihi,  written by Komparu Zenchiku (1405-1470?), in which the Chinese tang dynasty emperor  Genshō (Hsüan-tsung in Chinese) grieves over his favorite mistress Yōhiki (Yang Guifei or Yang Kuei-fei) in Chinese.  

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

Museum Commentary:
Yokihi (Yang Kuei-fei in Chinese) was the favorite concubine of the Chinese emperor Hsüan-tsung. After her tragic death, the grief-stricken emperor asked a Taoist magician to search for her in the afterworld. Kogyo's print depicts the scene in which the magician, having found Yokihi in the land of the immortals, receives a jeweled hairpin as a memento for the emperor.

Right Margin Description of Scene
click on image to enlarge

The Play - Yōkihi (Yang Kuei-fei) by Zenchiku

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 214-215.


Waki - a magician
Shite - Yōkihi
Kyōgen - a local person 

The Emperor Gensō (Hsuan Tsung) of T'ang, grief stricken at the death of his beloved Yōhiki (Yang Kuei-fei), has commissioned a magician to find out where she is.  Hearing at last that she is in the palace on the magic island of Hōrai, he gains an audience with her there and asks for something to take back to the Emperor as proof of their meeting.  She gives him a bejewelled hair ornament but when pressed for some more certain identification, discloses that she and Gensō promised each other that 'In Heaven, we shall become birds flying ever wing to wing; on earth, we shall become trees with branches entwined.'  Yōhiki dances for the visitor and then sadly watches him return to her lover with her memento and secret words.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1927
 Title Yōkihi 楊貴妃 (The Chinese Beauty Yang Guifei)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo 耕漁
 Seal Red letter seal in a square shape: 耕/漁 [Kō / gyo] as shown above
 [ref. seal #43, p. 170 in The Beauty of Silence]
 Date is trimmed from this print.
 The copy in the collection of The Walters Art Museum reads
Printed on October 10, 1898 / Issued on October ?, 1898
明治三十一年十月十日印刷 / 仝年仝月?日発行
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Address: 日本橋区吉川町二番地
 Impression good
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - light toning and minor soiling throughout; album backing paper, left margin trimmed
 Genre ukiyo-e; 能楽図絵 Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Miscellaneous The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston notes Part II, Section 1 後編、上
 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 arcUP0952 (November 5, 1900); The British Museum 1949,0409,0.16 (1897?); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 53.2928.8 (October 10, 1898); Art Institute Chicago 1939.2258.14 (1898); University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0284 (c. 1898); The Walters Art Museum 95.242 (1898); Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2011.11.10 (unreadable); Smithsonian Institution Freer/Sackler S2003.8.2910 (November 5, 1900); Japan Arts Council BK039-131 (October 10, 1898)
 Reference Literature
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