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Archive: Hokuei (北英)

Arashi Rikan II as the ryôshi [fisherman] Namishichi in Hime kurabe futaba ezôshi (Picture-book comparison of twin blades and the princess: 姫競双葉絵草紙), Naka no shibai, Osaka
Shunkôsai Hokuei ga (春江齋北英画)

Artist seal: Fumoto no yuki ("Snow in the foothills": ふもとの ゆき); Printer or Carver seal(?): Dato (田ト)

Honsei (Honya Seishichi: 本屋清七)
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
37.2 x 25.8 cm
Very good
Excellent color and very good condition, unbacked; some rubbing and light soil, restored thin spot to right of signature, three light creases
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry (Ref #HKE68)


Hime kurabe futaba ezôshi (Picture-book comparison of twin blades and the princess: 姫競双葉絵草紙) play was first performed in 1800, one in a long series of jidaimono ("period piece" or history plays: 時代物) categorized as Oguri Hangan mono (or Oguri mono, "Oguri Hangan plays") for both the puppet and kabuki theaters going to the 1660s. These tales, mixing the historical with the fictional, took their inspiration from various legends about Oguri as well as Chikamatsu Monzaemon's (近松門左衛門) 1698 puppet play Tôryû Oguri Hangan (當世流小栗判官) as well as the military chronicle Kamakura daizôshi ("Great copybook of Kamakura": 鎌倉大絵双紙).

The action was set during the Kamakura period (1186-1336) and featured the master of Hitachi Castle, Oguri Hangan Sukeshige (小栗判官助重), and his wife, Yokohama Terute (照天姫). Oguri's adventures follow many complicated paths, including political and military intrigues and supernatural episodes, his death due to poisoning by Terute's father and brother, and then his resurrection and revenge against his wife's family. In Oguri Hangan kuruma kaidô, another of the Oguri mono, Namishichi was a former retainer of Oguri's (named Mitono Kojirô). To save Terute from his evil brother-in-law (Onigawara no Dôhachi, who has taken her in a boat on Lake Biwa), he disembowels himself and tosses his intestines into the sea as he offers a prayer to the dragon gods. Terute is saved when the winds change and force the vessel onshore, where Namishichi slays Dôhachi before he dies. Namishichi is last seen as a lifeless body spread-eagled upside down on the side of a cliff.


This is the left sheet in a diptych; the other sheet depicts Iwai Shijaku as nyôbô (wife: 女房) Fuji.

Rikan strikes an imposing mie ("display" or climactic pose: 見得) while holding a long oar to which he has tied a fishing net and his sugegasa (sedge hat: 菅笠). The roundel-shaped cartouche at the upper left, with a shibori (shaped-resist dyeing: 絞り) pattern, is inscribed with the role and actor's name.

References: IKB-I, 2-429; KNP-6, p. 264; IBYKS-II, no. 304