Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Magic in the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac: Boar (Inoshishi) - The actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Omatsuri Sashichi, 1877. Oban.
This fine series is not so well known and the prints from it are rare to find in good condition. All the prints in the series pair one of the buddhist signs of the zodiac with an appropriate or related actor in a scene from history or kabuki. Not all of the references are to actual plays and it is possible that some of the scenes are imagined. For more information on the zodiac and its treatment in ukiyo-e see our blog post on the subject.
This print celebrates the boar, inoshishi in Japanese. Kunichika puns this with the name of a well known kabuki character and folk character Sashichi. This is the only connection to the zodiac sign since there is no visible pig in the image. Sashichi is normally pictured with the distinctive dotted towel over his head and he is associated with a cooking knife - seen here in the cartouche- with which he kills his lover. The fireman Sashichi is in love with the geisha Koito but their happiness is ruined by Koito's greedy mother and her constant schemes to get money from them. Her plots go too far when she claims that Koito's true father murdered Sashichi's father. Already angered by what he thinks are Koito's broken promises, Sashichi attacks her on a rainy night in a famous killing scene. Kunichika pictures the night time scene and the desperate lover driven half mad with rage.
This is a beautifully produced print in very good condition. Unmounted, the colour is also excellent as is the impression, embossing to the headgear.
Published by Ueki Rinnosuke.
We have other prints from this series not in this show, please enquire if you would like more information.
36cm x 24cm.