Artist: Shunkōsai Hokushū (春好斎北洲)

Print: Onoe Kikugorō III in seven hit roles -
(Onoe Kikugorō Ōatari shichiyaku - 尾上菊五郎大当七役)

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Dates: 1820,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.375 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Shunkōsai Hokushū ga
Publisher seals: Honya Seishichi
(Marks 123 - seal 25-181) and Oki

Related links: Valtion Taidemuseo (The Finnish National Gallery);

Physical description:

This print is linked to the play Kikustuke Irifune monogatari performed at the Kado theater in 7/1820.

Kikugorō III was famous for his ghost roles, which explains the predominant positioning of the figure on the left side. The others being portrayed are:

1) Kanō Shirojirō [狩野四郎次郎] in the upper left
2) Tenjiku Tokubei「天竺徳兵衛」in the upper right
3) Zato Tokuichi [座頭徳市], the blind musician - actually Tenjiku Tokubei - in the middle right
4) Fuwa Banzaemon [不破伴左衛門] in the middle left
5) Kasane [かさね] in the lower right
6) Kinugawa Yoemon「絹川与右衛門」, Kasane's husband, in the lower left
7) Kasane no Reikon [かさねの霊魂], the ghost of Kasane, along the left side of the print


I have wondered for years about the motif of the ghost on the left side. Especially puzzling has been that area just below the ghost, but now I think I know what it is: a nagare kanjō (流灌頂), a consecration cloth hung between four bamboo poles. In some plays when the villain goes to water the plant beneath the cloth a ghost holding a baby, an ubume (産女), a woman birthing ghost, rises up. That is surely what is intended here. (JSV)


Illustrated in Schätze der Kamigata: Japanische Farbholzschnitte aus Osaka 1780-1880, MNHA (Musée national d'histoire et d'art Luxembourg), p. 112, #237.


The second seal on this print, Oki, also belongs to the house of Honya Seishichi. In this case it represents the family name Tamaoki Seishichi (玉置清七).