Kunichika, Ichikawa Danjuro as Watonai in Kokusen'ya Gassen

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Ichikawa Danjuro as Watonai in Kokusen'ya Gassen, 1887. Oban Triptych.

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This print from a story often called The Battles of Coxinga, is as exotic as the strange story that it tells. The Chinese Ming Emperor is counselled by two rival advisors, Ritoten and Gosanki. The evil one of the two plucks out his own eye to deceive the Emperor of his loyalty only to mock him and stab him to death. Gosanki saves the Emperor’s sister, Sendan who later dies but not before giving birth. They travel to Japan and are washed up at the home of a family of exiles and their son Watonai. They all vow to restore the Royal Family and travel back to China, landing in the midst of a tiger hunt; fearless Watonai kills the tiger and the evil Ritoten’s retainers and they come to the home of Kinshojo, the half sister of Watonai and her husband General Kanki.

Kinshojo is overjoyed to be reunited with her family but General Kanki refuses to be united with Watonai. As a consequence, Kinshojo and her stepmother kill themselves, uniting the families through sacrifice and together they defeat Ritoten and restore the child Emperor. In this stunning, LOUD print by Kunichika, we see Ichikawa Danjuro IX in great aragoto mode in the traditional exotic costume of Watonai in the centre sheet. On the right we see the tragic Kinshojo played by Nakamura Fukusuke and the step mother Nagisa played by Kunitaro Kawarasaki. General Kanki occupies the left sheet played by Kataoka Gado. The play most often used for this story is Kokusen'ya Gassen written for the puppet theatre in 1716.

A fine triptych of an exotic subject by Kunichika in full Meiji colour… those reds and blues! A great print showing the final act where the two families await resolution at the castle of General Kanki. Unbacked, colour, impression and condition are all fine.

70 x 35.5 cm.