////Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III). Kabuki actors Sawamura Tanosuke III as Princess Wakana and Sawamura Tosshō II as Ashikaga Sanshichirō / Fan print, 1864.

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III). Kabuki actors Sawamura Tanosuke III as Princess Wakana and Sawamura Tosshō II as Ashikaga Sanshichirō / Fan print, 1864.

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada [歌川 国貞] a.k.a. Utagawa Toyokuni III [三代歌川豊国] (Japanese, 1786 – 1865).

Artist signature: By the brush of the 79-year-old Toyokuni [七十九歳豊國画] (Nanajūkyū-sai Toyokuni ga).

Publisher: Ebiya Rinnosuke [海老屋林之助] (Japanese, fl. c. 1832 – 1895); seal: ト/ 海老林 (to, Ebirin).

Block carver: Matsushima Masakichi [松島政吉]; seal: carved by Masa [彫政] (Hori Masa).

Combined date seal and kiwame censor seal: [子極] 1864 (Bunkyū 4/Genji 1).

Media: Untrimmed fan print (uchiwa-e), 223 x 297 mm.

Inscription in the cartouches: (R) Wakana-hime [若菜姫], Sawamura Tanosuke III [沢村田之助]; (L) Ashikaga Sanshichirō [足利三七郎], Sawamura Tosshō II [沢村訥升].

Play: Kinoene Soga Daikoku-bashira [甲子曽我大国柱], performed at the Morita theatre [森田座・守田座] (Morita-za) in 1864 (Bunkyū 4/Genji 1), 2nd month (see playbill at MFA-Boston Collection).

Playwright: Muraoka Kōji II [村岡幸治].

Actors and Characters:

Sawamura Tanosuke III [三代目沢村田之助] (Japanese, 1859 – 1878); other names: Shozan [曙山] (poetry name), Sawamura Yoshijirō I [初代沢村由次郎], here in the role of Princess Wakana [若菜姫] (Wakana-hime) (R). The story about Princess Wakana, Shiranui Monogatari, was written by Ryukatei Tanekazu [柳下亭種員] (Japanese, 1807 – 1858) and published as a 90-volume book of comics between 1849 and 1855. …The tale revolves around the clash between the Kikuchi and Ōtomo clans. Princess Wakana’s father Ōtomo Sōrin [大友 宗麟] (1530 – 1587) was killed in a battle, and his spirit demanded revenge. To appease her late father’s spirit, Princes Wakana acquired the power of the Earth Spider. She often appears in prints with a magic scroll, which helps her fight various enemies.

Sawamura Tosshō II [二代目沢村訥升] (Japanese, 1854 – 1879); other names: Kōga [高賀] (poetry name), Sawamura Genpei II [二代目沢村源平], Sawamura Sōjūrō [澤村宗十郎], Suketakaya Takasuke IV [四代目助高屋高助], Sawamura Tosshi VI [六代目澤村訥子] (poetry name), here in the role of Ashikaga Sanshichirō [足利三七郎] (L) with a horse. According to Markus Sesko, the scene comes from the kabuki play Umakiri (馬斬り) by Tatsuoka Mansaku [辰岡万作] (17432 – 1809), which premiered in 1794. It was later assimilated into the Kabuki play Kozotte Mimasu Kuruwa no Datezome [襷廓三升伊達染], which was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1853 at the Nakamura-za. Umakiri is based on a Kyōgen play featured in Hideyoshi’s biography Taikōki [太閤記]. Its plot is that Ashikaga Sanchichirō Yoshitaka [足利三七郎義孝・義高], who is supposed to allude to Nobunaga’s son Oda Sanshichirō Nobutaka [織田三七郎信孝], attacks and kills a horse that is carrying 3,000 ryō (金三千両), money Mashiba Hisayoshi [真柴久吉] (an allusion to Hashiba Hideyoshi [羽柴秀吉]) had sent to be donated to a shrine on Mt. Kōya. The surrounding people try to catch him, but when they hear it is Yoshitaka who killed the horse, they fall to the ground and prostrate, and Yoshitaka leisurely leaves with the money. The plot is very simple, but Yoshitaka’s dashing appearance makes it very pleasing to watch. There are also prints that quote the main protagonist as Ashikaga Sanshichirō Harutaka [足利三七郎春高], and there is another title for the play, Sanzen-Ryō Kogane no Kurairi [三千両黄金蔵入] (Pocketing 3,000 ryō of gold). For reference, see also the BLOG.

What these two characters are doing in one play remains a riddle. As Mr Graebner comments: “Most kabuki plays were only performed for one season (two months), and the books were lost. The playwrights have repeatedly used parts of plots from other plays, they have adopted characters, sometimes with the same or similar names. What can be found is the Kabuki Playbill (Tsuji banzuke) with cast and roles; the content is lost”.

MBA-Boston Accession number 11.28192

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Horst Graebner of the Kunisada Project and to Markus Sesko of The Metropolitan Museum, NY, for the analysis of the image and their invaluable contribution.

For reference, see also:





SKU: SVJP-0382.2022 Categories: ,

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