Kunisada, Nakamura Fukusuke I as the Wrestler Tetsugadake Dataemon

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Nakamura Fukusuke I as the Wrestler Tetsugadake Dataemon, 1859. Oban.

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This is a lush actor portrait on the theme of sumo wrestlers. As  fresh as the day it was printed… unbacked, pristine and burnished in the black highlights, it illustrates Nakamura Fukusuke I as the wrestler Tetsugadake Dataemon from the kabuki drama, Sekitori Senryo Nobori. This drama is very similar to other stories about wrestlers suffering the indignity of ‘throwing a bout’.

Inagawa Jirokichi  is talking with Tetsugadake when a messenger from the Ôsakaya teahouse, comes to tell him that he must pay a huge ransom before sundown to secure the freedom of  Nishikigi, a courtesan in the employ of the Ôsakaya, by his patron Tsuruya Reizaburô,  Inagawa has already paid 500 ryo to the Ôsakaya but doesn’t have the last 200 to complete the deal. Inagawa finds a way to raise the money by throwing the wrestling bout - a hugely dishonourable act. Should he fulfill his obligations, or should he follow his heart and fight honestly. Though it is an unbearable stain on his honor to be intentionally defeated by Tetsugatake, Inagawa makes up his mind to endure the shame for the sake of his patron to whom he is greatly indebted. Sadly he leaves for the sumo arena, seen off by his wife who feels as mortified as her husband.

Unfortunately the affair ends when Iangawa hears that his wife has sold herself into prostitution in order not to suffer the shame of her husband’s defeat, an act that we today find unimaginable. The full plot of the play can be found at kabuki21, and another version in our own archive.

A very fine print of a wrestler/actor in near perfect condition. Delightful woodgrain imprinted into the background.

Publisher: Kagaya Kichiemon (Kichibei).

24 x 36 cm.