JAPANESE PRINTS

A MILLION QUESTIONS

TWO MILLION MYSTERIES

 

Ukiyo-e Prints

浮世絵版画

Port Townsend, Washington

 

 

 

UTAGAWA HIROSADA

広貞

うたがわひろさだ

(fl. 1819-65)

 
 

Actor: Kataoka Gadō

片岡我童

かたおかがどう

 
 

Role: Ashikaga Yorikane

足利頼兼

あしかがよりかね

 
 

Play: Meiboku Sendai Hagi (?)

(Kataoka Gadô is known to have performed the role

of Ashikaga Yorikane at the Chikugo no Shibai

in Osaka in the third month of 1848.)

伽羅先代萩

めいぼくせんだいはぎ

 
 

Date: 3rd Month, 1848

Kaei 1

嘉永1

 
 

Print Size: 10" x 7 1/8"

 
 

Mat Size: 20" x 16"

 
 

Publisher: Kawaoto

川音

かわおと

(This was provided by one of our correspondents, E.,

and double checked by us. Prior to this the publisher

was listed as unknown. Thanks E!)

 
 

Condition:

Good color, brown stain on embossed sword hilt plus

minor soiling and a thin spot on the left outside

of the image. Unbacked.

 
 

ORIGINALLY $285.00

NOW $190.00

SOLD!

 

 

 

ILLUSTRATED

 

1. There is an on-line image of this print at Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University. This site is a bit difficult to navigate until you get used to it. It is completely in Japanese so after you enter the site and click on the 'Search' link -in English - at the bottom of the page copy and paste an artist's name in kanji from our site into the first box at the top of the page.

 

2. Catalogue of Japanese Art in The National Gallery, Prague, p. 135, #806.

 

     
   
     

 

BAMBOO AND SPARROWS 

雀 

たけ

すずめ

Bamboo and sparrow motif on a robe design ca. 1805.

 

Bamboo and sparrow motif on the kimono by Toyokuni III ca. 1860

 

Bamboo and sparrow motif by Kunisada ca. 1830 on a hand towel draped over a low screen.

   

TAKESUZUME

The actor playing the role of Ashikaga Yorikane (足利頼兼) is easily identifiable because his robe is often decorated either with sparrows or bamboo and sparrows combined. The pairing of these two elements is used on the crest (mon - 紋 or もん) of the Date clan. However, this motif does not always guarantee the absolute identification of this figure because we have seen a Kuniyoshi with a beautiful woman standing on a beach and wearing clothing with the same design. Perhaps this is an obtuse allusion to Yorikane, but at this point proving it is beyond our scholarship.

 

Students of art history are familiar with such iconographic short cuts: a man on a cross is usually Jesus (イエス); a man being barbecued on a grill is St. Lawrence (セントローレンス); a man studiously reading with a docile lion lying nearby is St. Jerome (サンジェローム); a woman standing by a wheel with blade like spikes coming out of it is St. Catherine of Alexandria (セントカサリン.アレグザンドリア) and so on. Similar cues can be found in both sacred and profane Asian art.

 

John W. Dower in The Elements of Japanese Design (p. 99) states:

"Like the lion and peony...the sparrow is commonly depicted with bamboo. The association is a natural one, since flocks of sparrows commonly alight in the bamboo groves..."

 

Merrily Baird in Symbols of Japan (pp. 118-119) notes that there are early poetic references to sparrows and bamboo. "The bird is said to be obsessed with its honor, especially the repaying of debts.... Nearly three dozen family crests are based on the sparrow."

 

 

   

Chūkō

means

"loyalty and filial piety"

ちゅ

 

 

   

Series title:

Chūkō buyū den

 

buyū den

means

"a martial story"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUBLISHER:

Kawaoto

 

 

 

       
    Above is a detail of a giga print by Kuniyoshi showing an anthropomorphized sparrow pointing at some bamboo nearby.    

 

Ashikaga Yorikane is the daimyo of Oshu portrayed in the play "Date kurabe okuni kabuki"

(伊達競阿國劇場).

 

THE FINEST KABUKI SITE ON THE INTERNET!
 
http://www.kabuki21.com/index.htm
 

For additional information about

and images by various artists of

Kataoka Gadô

link to the web site below.

 
KATAOKA NIZAEMON VIII

 

 

 
 

To see another example of a print based on a theme of the kabuki play Date Kurabe Okuni Kabuki click on the patterned motif above.

 

 

 

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