Hirosada, Mimasu Daigoro IV as Kumasaka Chohan

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) The Actor Mimasu Daigoro IV as Kumasaka Chohan, 1859. Deluxe Chuban.

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A fabulous and richly decorated Osaka print by Hirosada of the notorious bandit leader Kumasaka Chohan played by the kabuki actor Mimasu Daigoro IV. He appears in one of the hundreds of traditional stories that concern the exploits of Ushiwaka-Maru, later to be known as the popular hero Yoshitsune (1159-89).

As a young man, in 1174, Ushiwaka escaped from the temple in which he was being educated and joined the armed caravan of a gold merchant on his way to northern Japan. On the journey they were attacked by a group of bandits led by Kumasaka Chohan, a giant lay-priest. Yoshitsune is travelling as a menial to the merchant Kichiji and the scene is important since in the same episode Yoshitsune undergoes his coming of age ceremony and discovers his future destiny. He kills many of the robbers and finally the bandit chief Kumasaka Chohan himself. The scene takes place at night and the character in the print is shown holding a blackened torch (not an axe as it appears to us). These minor characters and skirmishes are fully dwelt upon in the great Japanese historical sagas such as the Soga monogatari which are similar in length and scope to their Greek equivalents. The theatre used these incidental scenes as a rich source of character and plotting, hence the large number of prints that depict this unremarkable scene.

Hirosada has made a fine looking print; there is rich decoration in the stylised thunder clouds of the head dress and the scowling beast of the chest piece. A terrific and finely balanced composition. Colour, impression and condition are all fine. A copy of this print is owned by the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art.

25 x 19 cm.