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Hokushû (北洲) and Kunihiro (collaborative work)

Collaborative Design: (R) Hokushû: Nakamura Sankô I as keisei (courtesan) Hana no To and (L) Kunihiro: Ichikawa Ebijûrô I as Saito Kuranosuke in Keisei somewake tazuna, Naka Theater, Osaka
(R) Shunkôsai Hokushû ga (L) Ganjôsai Kunihiro ga
No artist seals
Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei: 天満屋喜兵衞)
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
37.0 x 52.5 cm
Good impression
Very good color; Good condition (unbacked; slightly trimmed; some rubbing; a few stray marks; two pale vertical discolorations on right sheet; album binding holes repaired along adjacent vertical edges)
Price (USD/¥):
$630 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry (Ref #HKS19)


The play Keisei somewake tazuna (A courtesan's reins dyed in different colors), written by Naka Harusuke and the actor Nakamura Utaemon III (under his pen name Kanazawa Ryûgyoko), was adapted, as were quite a number of other plays, from Koi nyôbô somewake tazuna (Love and a wife's reins dyed in different colors; 1751). The earlier play was itself a revision of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's Tanba yosaku matsuyo no komuro bushi.


This is a collaborative work — Hokushû designed the right sheet and Kunihiro the left.

The figures are set within a compositional style called uki-e ("floating picture"), that is, a perspective view. As was often the case in ukiyo-e of this and earlier periods, the drawing of receding space does not strictly adhere to the Western model of a single vanishing point. Most artists had an incomplete understanding of the principles of perspective, but they and the print-buying public were fascinated by images in which the foreground figures seemed to "float" before middle and distant architectural or landscape elements.

Kuranosuke wears a formal divided skirt or pleated trousers with long trailing legs called a nagahakama, worn over kimono intended to make movement difficult in samurai mansions and castles, possibly to hinder escape or limit fighting. In kabuki they often facilitated rather dramatic poses (mie). Kuranosuke's nagahakama is decorated with stylized clouds and lightening bolts.

See HKS11 for another scene from this same production.

References: IKBYS-I, no. 113; KNP-6, p. 85