Kunisada, Iwai Hanshiro, Ichikawa Ebizo and Sawamura Morimasu

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865)  Iwai Hanshiro, Ichikawa Ebizo and Sawamura Morimasu with Palanquin, 1830’s. Oban Triptych.

A really lovely triptych by Kunisada. This lavish piece shows an extraordinary, lacquered Norimono - palanquin. Under a budding cherry, three characters stand before the vehicle, on the left hand sheet we can see various garden lanterns. These stone oil lamps are a common sight in garden centres and such like these days. They are ancient designs called toro or light basket. The stone versions that are most commonly reproduced, like those in this print are called dai-doro and are constructed from up to eight separate elements.

The performance here is lost to us. Henri Joly, in his 1916 book, Legend in Japanese Art, tells this famous story though, regarding the traditional stone lantern…

TADAMORI. (TAIRA NO). Founder of the greatness of the Taira clan, Tadamori was the father of Kiyomori and of Satsuma no Kami Tadanori (q.v.). He served the Emperors Shirakawa and Toba, and died in 1152. Amongst his exploits are related the wars against the Corean pirates, and more often the celebrated capture of the oil thief (Abura Bozu).

It is said that one night when he was with the Emperor, and the rain fell in torrents, someone reported that a monster, emitting flame from its mouth, was speeding along the road leading to the temple of Yasaka no Yashiro (Giyonji), where it had already been seen for several nights.f Tadamori went in search of the monster, which he saw coming along with stiff bristling hair and light intermittently issuing from its head. He bravely sprang upon the creature as it passed him, and found that it was but a temple servant, with a large hat much the worse for wear, a straw rain coat on his back, and a vessel of oil in one hand. The light and flames were emitted by a torch, which he had to keep alight by occasionally blowing upon it. One of the lanterns of the Yashiro temple is still called Tadamori Toro.

This is a hugely pleasing piece, the colour and impression are very good as is the condition overall. There are obvious worm holes on the bottoms of three sheets. A dramatic piece.

75 x 36 cm.