Kuniyoshi, Sawamura Sojuro V as Karukaya Doshin

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Sawamura Sojuro V as Karukaya Doshin, 1849. Oban.

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This striking print by Kuniyoshi is a portrait of the kabuki actor Sawamura Sojuro V as the ex-Daimyo and monkish recluse Karukaya Doshin from the kabuki drama Karukaya Doshin Tsukushi no Iezuto. The Daimyo Kato Shigeuji retires to a monastery and becomes involved in a plot to steal a precious stone from another feudal lord by the villain Yoshihiro. The complicated plot involves Doshin’s retainer attempting to trick Yoshihiro into believing that only a twenty year old virgin may safely touch the valuable gemstone without it corrupting and becoming worthless. The joke here is that there are very few twenty year old virgins in the area!

The plot twists and turns as the characters play out the tale of greed and deception. The print is very nicely and boldly made and has the reverential quality and colours of a shini-e, which it closely resembles. Sojuro V was not to die until four years later in fact, and this print could indeed be a fitting memorial. A copy of the print (rather wormy) is in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Published by Joshuya Kinzo.

23 x 26 cm.