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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Bandō Shūka I (坂東しうか) as Kijin no Omatsu (鬼女おまつ), the Demon God, and Ichikawa Danjurō VIII (市川団十郎) as Natsume Shirōsaburō (夏目四郎三郎) holding their child

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Dates: 1851,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Ibaya Kyūbei (Marks 126 - seal 11-005)
Seal: shita-uri or 'discreet sale' (シタ売)
Censors' seals: Kinugasa and Murata

Related links: British Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Shizuoka Prefectural Central Library ; National Diet Library; Philadelphia Museum of Art - 1886 Yoshitoshi diptych of Kijin no Omatsu killing Shirosaburō;

Physical description:

This play is sometimes called 'Kijin no Omatsu'. It is "...based on a popular tale sung during the early nineteenth century to a street entertainer's music called chongare bushi. The ballad told of how a wandering samurai was taken in by a beautiful female bandit whom she met at Kasamatsu Pass in Echigo, and whose traveling companion he became until, while crossing the Tani River, she stabbed him to death."

Quoted from: New Kabuki Encyclopedia, edited by Samuel L. Leiter, p. 589.

[Click on the link shown above to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Yoshitoshi's rendition of this event.]

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In Beauty and Violence: japanese Prints by Yoshitoshi 1839-1892 it say of the diptych in Philadelphia: "Omatsu... is at the centre of a number of thrilling but quite contradictory stories. In a number of these tales, there are recurring elements: Omatsu disguises herself as a man; she is head of or a member of a gang of highwaymen, she is looking for or in possession of Kishinmaru, a prized sword. Shirōsaburō is her blind samurai husband in one story, while in another her father's murderer."

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This image commemorates a performance of the play Shinpan koshi no shiranami (新板越白浪 ) performed at the Ichimura theatre in 1851/9.

ex B. W. Robinson collection ex C. H. Mitchell collection - skeleton kimono design.

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"Interestingly, this work has a shita-uri (literally, 'low sale') seal which indicates that it was on a restricted sale (supposedly sold from a pile on the floor) in order to avoid problems with the authorities. Kuniyoshi made several other prints depicting Ōmatsu... of which at least one other also bears a shita-uri seal."

Quoted from: Heroes and Ghosts: Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi 1797-1861, p. 173. It is accompanied with a color reproduction.