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Artist: Utagawa Yoshitsuya (歌川芳艶)

Print: Tarō Yoshikado (太郎良門) in the ruins of a Taira palace;
Princess Takiyasha (滝夜叉), Yoshikado's sister, is on the right

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Dates: 1843 - 1846,created
Dimensions: 9.5 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock prints
Inscription:

Signed: Ichiesai Yoshitsuya ga
一英斎芳艶画
Publisher: Tsujiokaya Bunsuke
(Marks 548 - seal 01-107)
Censor's seal: Hama

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Physical description:

Tarō Yoshikado plays a role in Monzaemon Chikamatsu's final work, The Tethered Steed (Tsunagi-uma - 繋馬) which debuted in the first month of 1724. Yoshikado is the son of Taira no Masakado (d. 940) "...who led an unsuccessful insurrection against the Heian court in the mid-tenth century." Yoshikado is the leader of a gang of robbers. However, "...Chikamatsu does not present the 'villain' character Yoshikado as evil but as a noble opponent of high lineage."

There was a great fire that year destroying much of Osaka, including the theater where this play was performed. For that reason, the play was not staged again until the Meiji era, 1890, to be exact. Clearly it was considered bad luck. Nevertheless, the text was well known and remained in circulation that whole period.

We are not saying, or even implying, that this triptych in the Lyon Collection relates directly to the Chikamatsu script. We don't know if it does or it doesn't. The odds weigh against it, but it does raise a particularly interesting question. A quick search for information in English about Tarō Yoshikado gives scant results. However, a search for images of him pop up in considerable numbers.

There is a triptych by Kunichika from 1858 in the Brooklyn Museum. The curatorial notes state that it is Yoshikado visiting the old temple at Soma: "This triptych captures a popular climatic scene from the kabuki stage. The warrior Taro Yoshikado appears at a temple before a frog sage to ask for supernatural powers to avenge the murder of a warlord. Princess Takiyasha, the daughter of the deceased warlord, lives in hiding at the temple, honing her powers for the same purpose. She appears at the center, releasing a ghost from a chest." Perhaps that is what this triptych is about and not a visit to a dilapidated palace.