Kunichika, Bando Hikosaburo as Iwafuji in Kagamiyama

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Bando Hikosaburo (right) as Iwafuji from Kagamiyama, 1872. Oban triptych.

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This triptych is a riot of design and pattern and shows a group of male onnagata actors in female roles. The play Kagamiyama tells the story of Onoe and Iwafuji. Iwafuji was a senior lady in waiting at the Imperial Court. Iwafuji plots the downfall of Onoe, her junior, by substituting a sandal for a valuable statue entrusted to Onoe’s care. When the sandal is discovered, Iwafuji publicly beats and humiliates Onoe who leaves, later to commit suicide. In the final scene, Onoe, having killed herself, is avenged by her friend Ohatsu who beats Iwafuji to death with the offending sandal.

The figures of the various ladies in waiting are crammed into an imitation frame of black lacquer and gold. The left sheet shows Nakamura Jusaburo II as Onoe. There is as ever with Kunichika a terrific rhythm to the figures and a riot of hair ornament.

The print is full sized, colour and impression are very good, the condition is excellent, backed onto Japanese album paper. Two wormholes on the bottom left and centre sheets.

72 x 35 cm.