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Archive: Hokuei (北英)

(1R) Nakamura Utaemon III as Sute Wakamaru; (2R) Onoe Tamizo II (L) as Miura Hitachi; (3R) Nakamura Tomijûrô I as Gion Okaji; (4R) Bandô Jûtaro as Saito Kuranosuke in Keisei chigogafuchi, Kado no Shibai, Osaka
Shunkôsai Hokuei ga (春江齋北英画)
No artist seal
Wataki (Wataya Kihei, 綿屋喜兵衞)
(H x W)
Deluxe ôban nishiki-e (3 sheets of 4)
36.0 x 73.6 cm
Very good
Good impression, color, and condition (some trimming, more so at far left; a few minor creases; a few small stains; two pin holes; a small insect hole; backed; unusual sprinkling of brass in sky on all three sheets
Price (USD/¥):

The Chigo Deep Water (Chigo ga fuchi) in the play title was located off the island of Enoshima. It was there in the twelfth century that a young acolyte or temple page (chigo) named Shiragikumaru committed suicide rather than choose between two priests who vied for his love. Keisei chigogafuchi (A courtesan and deep water at Chigo: けいせい稚児淵), along with Chigogafuchi koi no shiranami (Chigo deep water and the white waves of love: 児渕恋白浪), combined the legends of the outlaw Goemon with a revenge tale involving Shiragikumaru (renamed Sutewakamaru in the kabuki dramas). The conflated saga includes Sutewakamaru vowing to avenge the death of Takechi Mitsuhide who had been slain by Mashiba Hisayoshi (the theatrical namesake for the historical shôgun Toyotomi Hideyoshi). This links the Sutewakamaru plot with various Ishikawa Goemon mono ("plays about Ishikawa Goemon"), the legendary fugitive outlaw during the reign of Hideyoshi. Late in the play, Sutewakamaru transforms into Goemon.

For more about Goemon, use our Search page to find various prints featuring this role.


These three prints are part of a tetraptych, with the omitted sheet showing Nakamura Utaemon III as Sute Wakamaru at the far right. The sprinkling of brass particles in the sky in the present grouping is a distinct curiosity, possibly representing proof copies for testing the application of these metallics. No other impressions with this effect are known for this design.

References: KNP-6, p. 264; KSTZ, pp. 84-85, no. 107