Hirosada, Jitsukawa Ensaburo as a Lion Dancer

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Jitsukawa Ensaburo as a Lion Dancer, 1849. Chuban.

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This is a splendid, chuban print of a lion dance. This highly stylised dance was performed by dancers on a stone bridge with peonies and wigs as long manes. All the elements of the performance are fitted into the sheet, the lion dancer looking over the stone parapet for the two sons he has flung down in the hope that their strength will save them. Joly discusses lions and this dance genre in entry 425;

KARASHISHI; or Shishi. Buddhist stone lions, of Chinese origin, freely scattered about the gardens or placed at the gates of temples, like the Koma Inn. They are characterised by their fierce expression, large eyes and curly mane, their bushy tail and curly locks of hair on the legs. They show traces of the influence upon their first designer of the curly dogs which are the pride of the Chinese Imperial family. Karashishis are an ever-recurring subject in art treatment, with the regal peonies, or with the sacred jewel which often takes the shape of an intricately pierced ball, perhaps because emblematic of the Buddha ; sometimes with a small ball in the mouth, or leaping a waterfall, or several shishi playing or fighting, are but a few of the presentments of this Sinico-Korean import. They are usually associated with rocks, waterfalls and peonies. On such a lion rides Monju Bosatsu, whilst the same creature crouches at the feet of the "Sennin with the Shishi." Legend has it that the shishis tested the vitality of their progeny by throwing the young ones from the top of a cliff (shishi no saka otoshi). Should the animal survive it was certain to live long. This is often illustrated.

This dance was always a popular event at the kabuki theatres, mainly because of its lavish and dramatic staging. 

A very fine Hirosada, colour condition and impression are all very good.

25 x 18 cm.