Shibakuni, Battledore of Ichikawa Danzo V as Miuranosuke Yoshimura

Saikotei Shibakuni (active 1821 -1826) Ichikawa Danzo V as Miuranosuke Yoshimura, in Kamakura Sandaiki, 1824. Oban.

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This is a very rare print indeed from a highly regarded but little known Osaka artist, Saikotei Shibakuni. Shibakuni is only known to have produced a handful of prints, two of which, appear to form a series commemorating the performance in 1824 at the Kado no Shibai theatre in Osaka of the drama, Kamakura Sandaiki. Shibakuni was a member of the circle of artists who gathered around Osaka printmaker Yoshikuni in the early 1820’s.

The two known prints show Nakamura Utaemon III, in the role of Tozo the farmer (in reality Sasaki Takatsuna) in the British Museum and Nakamura Sanko as Okura in the MFA Boston. This print completes the series of three, adding the role of Miuranosuke to the set. This makes it a very important Osaka print and relevant to the prints already in the museum collections. All three prints in the series are in the form of a battledore, (like a badminton bat). These were often ornamented with padded fabric portraits of actors which the prints imitate

This print shows the actor Ichikawa Danzo V in the role of Miuranosuke Yoshimura; he is holding the battle standard of his clan in his right hand. The play tells the story of Miuranosuke, how he is fighting the rival clan of his betrothed and how, when he learns of this on his return from battle, he demands that his fiancée kill her father, his clan’s enemy, in order to demonstrate her love for him. As she departs to kill her father, spies leave the stage to inform him of her filial treachery but a strange character, (Tozo the farmer - in reality Sasaki Takatsuna - supporter of Miuranosuke) kills them with a spear thrust from inside a well. Honour is restored, and Sasaki and Miuranosuke depart once again for the battle. Another version of the play by Toyokuni shows Danjuro VII holding a standard in similar pose, along with the other characters. 

The print is oban format, an outstanding design, beautifully drawn and stylistically representative of early nineteenth century Osaka printmaking. The print is full size; condition is fair, with professional paper restoration to the reverse side of the print, colour is a little faded but the yellow remains strong and the impression is very fine indeed.

This print is illustrated on p 51 of Jan van Doesburg's Osaka Kagami, 1985.

Publisher: Arihirado Kobun.

26 x 38 cm.