Hirosada, Arashi Rikan II as Ishida no Tsubone in Keisei Ishikawazome

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Arashi Rikan II as Ishida no Tsubone in Keisei Ishikawazome, 1848. Deluxe Chuban.

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The play Keisei setsugekka ("Courtesan: Sun, moon, and flowers") was first performed at the  Kado Theater in Osaka at the New Year in 1830. The plot is very complicated, and as was so often the case, it entailed the bringing together of wildly different characters from the ‘alternate universe’ of the kabuki repertoire. In other words, plays like this were akin to modern blockbuster movies that might drag in Batman and Iron Man and sundry other characters from the Marvel Comics franchise even though they have nothing in common with each other in the normal narratives of their fictional lives.

Establishing a ‘multiverse’ enabled the writer to pit fictional characters… Ishida no Tsubone ( the fictional mother of the outlaw Ishikawa Goemon) against real historical figures.  Ishida no Tsubone, in this play, is married to the Lord of Tajima, who is slain by the Toyotomi clan for siding with the general Mitsuhide. The actual character, Akechi Jûbei Minamoto-no-Mitsuhide (1528-82) served the great Oda Nobunaga, against whom Mitsuhide rebelled in 1582, which led to Nobunaga's death. The disloyal Mitsuhide was in turn slain by Japan's second great unifier, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98). In this play, Ishida plots to assassinate the regent but fails and is forced to commit suicide. Her son Goemon's later exploits and intrigues as an outlaw were in part intended to avenge his mother's death. All of this is fanciful but is intended nevertheless to act as backstory to the fateful meeting of Goemon and Hideyoshi at the Sanmon Gate

Hirosada has used a rare technique of woodgraining in the background called Itame-mokuhan: literally, "imitation woodgrain"; the use of a densely grained woodblock which has been soaked in water to emphasise the pattern of the grain. Elsewhere, the collar has been embossed and burnished. Colour and impression are fine, condition is very good… clean and sharp. The print has a thin Japanese album backing.

18 x 25 cm.

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