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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Iwai Hanshirō V (岩井半四郎) as Seitaka Dōji (せいたかの童子 [制吒迦童子])
from 雪芳野来入顔鏡 (ゆきもよしのきごとのかおみせ)

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Dates: circa 1812,created
Dimensions: 12.25 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
五渡亭国貞画
Publisher: Iwatoya Kisaburō
(Marks 173 - seal 08-051)
Gyōji censor's seal: Waka

Related links: Waseda University - right panel; Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - top panel; Minneapolis Institute of Art - 14th c. painting of Seitaka Dōji; Hankyu Culture Foundation; Cleveland Museum of Art - 1164 ink on paper of Seitaka on horseback;

Physical description:

There is something almost indescribably charming about this print or even a little bit silly to the modern eye. The figure of Seitaka Dōji could not look more innocent or unthreatening. The colors, the pose, the delicate, wind-blown garments and the long-stemmed lotus are all elements of the gentle soul of one of Fudō Myōō's assistants ever present in the saving of lost souls. Even his garments look celestial. The orange and yellow sash-like garment draped around his body is decorated with a cloud-like motif. Below that is the pinkish 'obi' which is covered with a very tame lightning motif. The skirt of his lower robe is covered with beautifully flowing and billowy clouds.

The almost feminine, contrapposto pose, reminiscent of Donatello's David, adds to the otherworldly nature of this figure.

This actor, Iwai Hanshirō V, would have been about thirty-six years old at the time of this performance, but he looks much younger and therefore appropriately cast for this role. His pose bespeaks grace itself. His face is sweetness and light. He has cut a mie, that is, when an actor crosses one or both eyes and basically drives the audience in a bit of a frenzy. But this mie is unlike most of the typical expressions used at those dramatic moments. Normally they are exceedingly masculine. In fact, there are many different types of them expressing strength and boldness, but not in this example. This actor's expression is beatific almost to the point of looking a bit goofy. That smile, those eyes, and the gentle tilt of his head adds to the incredible charm of this print. (JSV)

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This is truly one of Kunisada's earliest prints. It represents Seitaka Dōji, one of the two attendants of the god Fudō Myōō. It is the lower right panel of a triangular-shaped triptych.


complete triptych at Waseda University

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There is an ink on paper hanging scroll of Seitaka (Sk: Cetaka or servant) dated 1164 in the Cleveland Museum of Art. It represents Seitaka is a less benign form, less feminine looking. Here he is almost warrior-like on horseback.

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There is a beautifully preserved 14th century suit of armor in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On the leather corselet there is an illustration of Fudō Myōō accompanied by his attendants including a childlike Seitaka Dōji.