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Archive: Hokuei (北英)

R) Nakamura Utaemon III as Sute Wakamaru and (L) Onoe Tamizô II as Miura Hitachi in the play Keisei chigogafuchi (A courtesan and deep water at Chigo: けいせい稚児淵), Kado Theater, Osaka

Shunkôsai Hokuei ga (春江齋北英画)

No artist seal
Wataya Kihei (seal: Wataki)
(H x W)
Ôban diptych nishiki-e
37.2 x 50.6 cm
Very good
Very good color and condition (deluxe edition with gold-color and silver-color metallics; sprinkled mica in sky of right sheet; unbacked; very slight album fold left vertical edge of each sheet; tiny album binding holes, small printing flaw in sky; slight trimming and small vertical printing crease at bottom of right sheet)
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.


Two sheets from a tetraptych; a very effective pairing of adjacent sheets from a larger composition, finely printed and well preserved.