Yoshitaki, Ghost at the Crossroads

Utagawa Yoshitaki (ca 1841 - 1899) Actors in a Drama, Ghost at the Crossroads, 1870’s.  Chuban Diptych.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

Ghost stories were a constant favourite among kabuki audiences. The appearance of ghosts in woodblock prints is similar to that in western prints: they are often depicted as grey, semi opaque, levitating and surrounded by unearthly flames.

In an unread print here by Yoshitaki, we see a hapless traveller battling a ghost at a crossroads - crossroads were often thought to be the site of hauntings and undead spirits. The ghost on the right is recognisable by the plume of fire that arcs across the print, by the disappearing form at the base of the figure and by the mortal wounds visible on the face and arms. The plot here involves the ghost of a foe, unfairly killed and returning to seek vengeance on his assassin.

A very nice diptych, lusciously printed and very lively in its layered pattern of figures set against waving reeds. Condition, colour and impression are all fine.

25cm x 52cm.