Hirosada, Tales of Loyalty, Bravery and Filial Devotion (Chuko Buyu-den) Katabatake Kazue no atama

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Tales of Loyalty, Bravery and Filial Devotion (Chuko Buyu-den) Kitabatake Kazue no atama, 1849. Deluxe Chuban.

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This dazzling print is from a short series taken from the kabuki drama, Keisei Yamato Zoshi or The Courtesan's Storybook of Old Japan. Kabuki theatre, exemplified by Osaka prints above all others, is obsessed with misunderstanding, with private and hidden desires, by unexpressed thoughts and suppressed emotions. In this play for example, the two lovers, Komaki and Sukekuni choose to die because they cannot be together. There is a beautiful scene in the middle of the play where none of the characters can speak their words and are forced to pluck flowers from the exquisite garden that they inhabit in order to express their emotions and feelings. The confusion, the misunderstanding, the illusion of meaning leads to their deaths and eventual reincarnation as two butterflies who then inhabit the garden of meanings seen earlier in the performance, a conceit that is deeply moving and intellectually satisfying.

The print has the cover-all title, Chuko Buyu-den, a flag of convenience translated as "Tales of Loyalty, Bravery and Filial Devotion", this seemingly modest and worthy title was to satisfy theatre censors who under government reforms in the 1840’s had banned the production of theatre subjects.

The print itself is fabulous, deeply embossed, with rich colour, oxidation and fine impression. The condition is good; the print is on Japanese album backing, and has been re-margined. Some peripheral worm holes.

25cm x 18cm.