Yoshikuni, Onoe Fujaku III as Oguri Hangan and Nakayama Isshi I as Princess Terute

Jukodo Yoshikuni (active 1813 - 1831) Onoe Fujaku III as Oguri Hangan and Nakayama Isshi I as Princess Terute, 1825/6. Oban.

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Terrific print, a fine Osaka oban piece with fine colours and a splendid composition. There is still so much of the ‘archaic’ in this piece… the deliberate mannerisms of third period Osaka design not yet having taken hold.

The print depicts the (as usual), complex characters of one of kabuki’s tragic and heroic pairings, Hangan and Princess Terute. Henri Joli, in his book Legend in Japanese Art, describes the lovers thus:

OGURI HANGWAN. Son of a rebellious vassal of Ashikaga, after whose ruin he had to live in hiding. He is celebrated for his horsemanship, and accordingly often shown on horseback on a Go table. OGURI HANGWAN had a vicious stepmother who compelled him to flee from home. Later on she sent him some drugged wine, which he unsuspectedly drank, the result being that he wasted away and became a cripple. A priest made him a small car, upon which he travelled for several years, pulled by compassionate people. He met Terute Hime, who, with the help of a prayer to the God of Hakone, healed him, and the romance of their adventurous life is set at length in the Oguri Monogatari.

In company with Hosokawa Hasafusa, he hunted down and destroyed the pirate Kazama Hachiro, and he is often depicted mounted on his horse, Onikage, and watching from the top of a cliff the doings of the pirate.

Lafcadio Hearn, in his paper on Daikoku mai (trans. Asiatic Society Japan XXII/3/309), says that Oguri's birth was the result of prayer and a miracle. Terute was also of miraculous birth, and her father, Choja Yokohama, incensed at her marrying Oguri against his wish, poisoned the bridegroom and ordered his own daughter to be drowned. She was, however, rescued by a fisherman named Murakimi Dayu, of Nawoye, whose jealous wife sold Terute to a kidnapper. The unhappy girl was thus sold seventy-five times, until she was bought by Yorudzuya Chobei, a Joroya keeper. She refused to become a Joro, and preferred to do the hardest menial toil, keeping chaste until she was rescued by Oguri.

Once in Sagami some highwaymen plotted to rob him, but Terute heard of the plot and warned him; he then escaped on the horse of one of the robbers.

The print illustrates these same characters but in a kabuki drama, Oguri Hangan. The plot is quite different from the legends, but the basic facts remain, and of course we see the famous, man-eating horse, Onikage. The play is a revenge drama and doesn’t deal with the misfortunes of Hangan. A superb piece with fine colour and impression in excellent condition, a flattened, centre crease.

26 x 37 cm.