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Two book covers, ebyōshi (絵表紙) forming a diptych of The Heroic Tales of Jiraiya (Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari - 児雷也豪傑物語), Chapter 36

Identifier: 1845c Kuniyoshi Kunisada ehon
Description:

Jiraiya is killing huge snake. Behind him is a sorcerer, possibly Tenjiku Tokubei, atop a giant origami toad.

This diptych is from a 43 volume set of illustrated books (kusazōshi). It bears the signatures of both Kuniyoshi and Toyokuni III (Kunisada). The characters within circles, 下 and 上 are the characters for “the second volume” and “the first volume”, respectively.

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Six different Utagawa artists took part in illustrating this series of ehon published over about 25 years. They were Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Kuniteru, Kunimori, Yoshifusa and Yoshiiku. The only non-Utagawa artist was Ikeda Eisen.

There are two red cartouches in the upper right of the left-hand cover, the one with the magician standing on the origami toad. The cartouche on the left reads: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga (一勇斎国芳画).

The cartouche to the right of that first cartouche gives the author's name: Ryūtei Tanehiko (柳下亭種員: 1807-1858).

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On each book cover are identifying characters for which is the first one and which the second. In a web site run by Ben Bullock it says: "If there are two volumes, they are labelled jōkan (上巻) or just jō (上) for the first volume, and gekan (下巻) or just ge (下) for the second."

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