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Artist: Shunbaisai Hokuei (春梅斎北英)

Print: Nakamura Shikan II (中村芝翫) as Sōjō Henjō (僧正遍照) from
a quick-change dance of Six Poetic Immortals (Rokkasen - 六歌仙)

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Dates: 1834,created
Dimensions: 10.5 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signature: Shunbaisai Hokuei ga
春梅斎北英画
Publisher: Tenmaya Kihei (Marks 536 - seal 21-0193)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Kansai University; Metropolitan Museum of Art - Buddhist's vestment or kesa; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 19th century kesa; Freer Sackler Galleries - Hokusai painting of Sōjō Henjō - notice the similarities to this Hokuei print; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Utamaro print of a beauty with an inset of Sōjō Henjō; Lyon Collection - Shigeharu print of the 6 poetic sages;

Physical description:

According to the entry in the The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature on p. 163 Henjō (816-890?) was not really that significant a poet. However, he is considered so because he was listed with five other poets in Ki no Tsurayuki's preface to the Kokinshū "...and is included as well as one of hte thirty-six poetic worthies (sanjūrokkasen)."

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There are at least two prints in the Lyon Collection which portray Sōjō Henjō. The other print is by Shigeharu, #574, and it shows a grouping of all six poets from the same kabuki production.

Notice that part of the priest's robe or kesa (袈裟) is made up of patched fabrics. In reference to a kesa in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art it says:

This robe, an example of a Buddhist vestment (Japanese: kesa; Sanskrit: kashaya) meant to distinguish the clergy from laypersons, is made from a woven textile that was cut up and reconfigured into a rectangular, bordered patchwork. As such, these garments embody both a form of pious donation and the practice of recycling textiles. The labor-intensive practice of piecing together fragments of cloth into specific columnar layouts was itself considered an act of religious devotion.

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Sōjō (僧正) means 'high Buddhist priest'.

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One of an incomplete set of six actor prints from the play Rokkasen Sugata no Saishiki at Kado Theater, 1/1834.

Bibliography: Kitagawa, "Bosuton bijutsukan shozô Kamigata-e mokuroku" (Kansai daigaku, 2007), p. 101; Kitagawa et al 2006, #6; referenced in Keyes 1973 on p. 134.

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According to a Kansai University pdf, item #6, this print should be considered as one of a pair with a print of Ariwara no Narihira (在原業平). See the link above.