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Archive: Sadamasu 貞升 (later called Kunimasu (國升)

Kataoka Gadô II (Gatô I) as the otokodate Karigane Bunshichi; Play and Print Title: Date kurabe Naniwa otoko
Gochôtei Sadamasu ga
Honsei (Honya Seishichi: 本屋清七)
Mitate circa 1840-41
(H x W)
37.9 x 25.5 cm
Very good color and good condition (unbacked; small creases and some soiling; especially in lower left corner; a few incised lines to left of Gado's head and one short one on forehead; a few filled binding holes along right edge, plus faint residual glue on verso of same edge)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: KMS12 


Date kurabe Naniwa otoko (A contest of gallant men from Osaka: 伊達競浪花男) was an adaptation of earlier plays about the Karigane gonin (Karigane five), the most notorious members of a loosely knit gang of at least eleven outlaws led by Karigane Bunshichi. They were executed on 8/26/1702 for a crime spree of beatings, theft, and murder spanning several years. It

A better-known play, Otokodate itsutsu karigane (Karigane's five brave and chivalrous men), written for the puppet theater by Takeda Izumo II and first performed in 9/1742, was based on a series of actual incidents that took place in Edo between spring 1701 and the second month of 1703 (contemporaneous with the real-life Karigane Five incidents in Osaka). It was one of the most influential Karigane gonin otoko mono (Karigane's five-men plays), theatrical productions about so-called otokodate (chivalrous commoners, literally "standing men": 男伊達 or 男作). Takeda's version was one of many that mythologized these criminals, transforming them from street thugs into heroes. Their fictionalized alter-egos fought against the oppression of townspeople by troublemaking samurai called hatamoto yakko (bannermen's footmen: 旗本) serving the shôgun. On the theatrical stage, the otokodate and hatamoto yakko were often portrayed in street fights and intrigues, with various other scenes depicting them in the pleasure quarters or gambling dens.


Karigane Bunshichi is portrayed within a roundel or mirror as he holds a scarf draped around his neck. Just visible over his right shoulder is a shakuhachi (a long, end-blown wooden flute: 尺八) strapped to his back. It was meant to be symbolic of a cultured otokodate, but it also served as a weapon in the absence of other options.

The print title is given along the top in a large, fanciful script patterned like shibori ("pressed," a dappled, shaped-resist textile: 絞り). The blue rectangle at the top of the mirror is a notch for hanging or mounting (nearly all mirror-print designs dispense with this bit of realism).

The only other impression we could find is in an unpublished collection of Iwase Bunko (Aichi). A rare print!