////Utagawa Kunisada. Jisei ha-uta no tsuma-biki / Fan print, 1856.

Utagawa Kunisada. Jisei ha-uta no tsuma-biki / Fan print, 1856.

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

Signed: Toyokuni ga [豊国 画] in a red toshidama cartouche

Publisher: Iseya Ichiemon [伊勢屋市右衛門] (Japanese, fl. c. 1820s – c. 1860s); seal Tsuji [辻] (Marks 16-029).

Media: Untrimmed fan print (uchiwa-e), 225 x 295 mm, plus 10 mm paper strip glued on top (235 mm total height).

Title: Plucking Popular Songs in Those Days [時世葉歌の爪弾] (Imayo ha-uta no tsuma-biki).

Date seal and aratame seal: Ansei 3 (1856).

Seller’s Description: Uchiwa-e; picture intended for a summer fan. Here we see a relaxed beauty wearing loose layers of kimono and playing her shamisen instrument. She appears to be in the happy mood of spring, her singing inspired by the cherry blossoms in full bloom that we see outside of her window. She enjoys leisurely plucking with the plectrum of the shamisen and singing “ha-uta” (popular) songs. The title Ha-uta [葉歌] is normally written 端歌, which indicates a certain category of popular songs accompanied by shamisen with short texts that are drawn from daily life.  Here however, the title葉歌 uses phonetically the same “ha“, referring to the title of the book of a collection of ha-uta songs, Matsu no ha [松の], which was published in five volumes in 1703 by Shûshôken 秀松軒. It is said that this collection of songs was written and sung by the blind (who were often musicians by livelihood). Behind her, lying on the window sill, we see two ha-uta songbooks, one open and one closed. The last half of the title tsuma-biki [爪弾] translates “to pluck with fingers” instead of a plectrum, which is the usual way of playing the shamisen. 

SKU: SVJP-0407.2023 Categories: ,

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