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Archive: Hasegawa Munehiro (長谷川宗廣)

Bandô Hikosaburô V (坂東彦三郎) as Ran no Kata (蘭の方) in an adaptation of the Chûshingura drama, unidentified theater, Osaka
Hasegawa Munehiro ga
No Artist Seal
No seal
Circa 1860s
(H x W)
Deluxe ôban nishiki-e
36.8 x 24.9 cm
Very good
Very good color; good condition (very slight soil; very slight trimming; minute indentation in paper below mouth)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry (Ref #MUH01)


The most famous revenge tale in kabuki and bunraku is Kanadehon chûshingura (Copybook of the Treasury of Loyal Retainers: 假名手本忠臣蔵), often called simply "The Forty-seven Rônin." In one adaptation — titled Gishinden yomikiri kôshaku — Ran non Kata (蘭の方) was the name taken by Otaka when she became the concubine of the villain Kô no Moronao. Her purpose was to infiltrate the palace of the rônin's enemy to aid her lover Yashichi in the vendetta. After much effort she manages to steal a map of the palace grounds, which she presents to Yashichi. To end her shame over becoming Moronao's concubine, she takes her life in a kago (lit., "vehicle basket," a palanquin: 駕籠 or just 駕) during her return to the palace.


This print appears to have a connection with bunraku (puppet theater: 文楽), as the stylized characters along the top for "Toyo" connote the bunraku Toyotake lineage of chanters, while the crane (tsuru: 鶴) emblems signify the Tsuruzawa lineage of shamisen masters.

In Munehiro's design we see Ran no Kata holding a long pipe (kiseru: 烟管) while visiting Moronao's compound to view the blooming chrysanthemum (kiku: 菊). The blue-and-white checkboard pattern in the background is part of a roof above a bamboo fence protecting the beautiful flowers.

Ran no Kata wears a tsunokakushi (角隠し) or cloth wrapped around the bridal high topknot called bunkin takashimada (文金高島田). Its literal meaning is "horn concealer," a reference to the "horns of jealousy" that were meant to be hidden by the tsunokakushi, and symbolized a bride's resolve to abandon her self-interest in becoming a gentle and obedient wife. It was also used by women when visiting Buddhist temples. More pertinent to Munehiro's print, the tsunokakushi was closely associated with Act IX of the Kanadehon chûshingura, where the cloth was worn by Konami.

After 1848, ôban-size Osaka prints were published in small numbers, whereas chûban-size prints accounted for approximately 95% of all single-sheet prints until the Meiji period (1868-1912). It has become increasingly difficult to find ôban prints from this period such as this Munehiro, in such good condition with well-preserved colors.

References: OSK, no. 38; PPO, p. 232