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Archive: Kunimasu 國升 (previously Sadamasu 貞升)


Onoe Baikô III, 尾上梅幸 (Onoe Kikugorô III, 尾上菊五郎) as geiko (geisha) Kasane (芸子かさね) in Kasane ôgi hagi no Datezome (Kasane’s fan and bush clover in dyed Date colors, 重扇萩の伊達染), Kado Theater (角の芝居), Osaka

Sadamasu ga (貞升画)
No artist seal, but the signature is inscribed within a Toshidama (年玉) cartouche associated with the Utagawa lineage of artists
No publisher seal
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e
24.5 x 17.5 cm
Excellent, with embossing, bokashi
Excellent color, unbacked; no issues of note
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: KMS51


Kasane ôgi hagi no Datezome (Kasane’s fan and bush clover in dyed Date colors, 重扇萩の伊達染) was one of the so-called Kasane mono (plays about Kasane: 累物). The story is based on actual events as well as legends from the 17th century involving an extremely jealous and "ugly" woman named Kasane whose husband Yoemon murders her at the Kinu River in Hanyû Village (the reasons for this vary according to different adaptations of the tale). In one version of the legend, her vengeful ghost haunts various family members until she achieves salvation through prayers offered by Saint Yûten. In another adaptation, Kasane's spirit returns to possess another character. The story of Kasane became a significant theme within the Edo-period genre of the ghost-story (kaidan-mono: 怪談物), with many playwrights, both in kabuki and the puppet theater, adapting the tale. Interestingly, virtually all retellings included the murder scene at the Kinu River.

Onoe Kikugorô III (尾上菊五郎 1784-1849) was one of the greatest kaneru yakusha (all-around actors: 兼ねる役者) in kabuki history. His stage rivalry with Ichikawa Danjûrô VII (1791-1859) pitched the fans of both actors into spirited competitions, each coterie claiming that its hero was the greatest actor of his generation, while his alliance with the playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755 - 1829) resulted in the best known of kabuki's kaidan mono, when in 7/1825 Kikugorô premiered the role of Oiwa in Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan (Tôkaidô ghost story at Yotsuya: 東海道四谷怪談).

The name Baikô (梅幸) was both Kikugorô's haigô (literary or poetry name: 俳号) and, briefly, one of his stage names (Baikô III, from 11/1814 to 11/1815) when he took the name Kikugorô. It was uncommon but not rare for actors to be identified on prints by their haigô.


In this portrait by Kunimasa, Kikugorô takes on a troubled countenance as he expresses Kasane's distress and jealousy.

This is a finely printed impression, with extensive embossing on the nose, fan, white collar, and flowers. The delicate pinkish blush on the face, which is nearly always faded, is here still visible.

References: IKBYS-III, no. 139 (inv. no. ike-37377); Rijksmuseum; Sadamasu web page