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Archive: Sadanobu (貞信)

The courtesan Tama of Isezuru in Kita-no-Shinchi
Hasegawa Sadanobu ga
No artist seali
Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei: 天満屋喜兵衞)
Circa 1837
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
36.5 x 25.2 cm
Very good (deluxe edition with metallics and embossing)
Excellent colors, very good condition (unbacked; a few pinholes, glue residue on edges of verso)
Price (USD/¥):

Order/Inquiry: SDN23


As Japanese cities grew in size, an expanded system of waterways was needed for the transportation of goods and people. Rivers were diverted, embankments constructed, and canals built. Construction crews on canal projects would use sunamochi (sand-carrying: 砂持), with dozens or hundreds of workers dredging and jumping up and down on the canal embankments to harden them.

There were also sunamochi matsuri (sand-carrying festivals: 砂持祭), which were very popular in Osaka, Japan's city of merchants and commerce. A sunamochi matsuri held at the Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine in 6/1789 was heavily promoted by merchants as an event to bring good luck and prosperity. Rumors spread that citizens who did not participate in the festivities risked having their noses turn black. Ezôshi (picture books) appeared with titles such as "The tale of the sunamochi black nose" and "Tamatsukuri Inari sunamochi produces great luck and prosperity in this world."


Tama of Isezuru (伊勢鶴玉) is performing at a sunamochi in the Kita-Shinchi (北新地) entertainment district in Osaka, in this instance a sand-carrying ceremony held at the Tsuyu no Tenjin Shrine (Tsuyu no Tenjin Sunamochi hayashi: 露の天神 砂もちはやし). The inscription in the top part of the cartouche (patterned like woodgrain) reads Shô no Shin-Kita (小の新北). The fan reads Tsuyu no tsukugami sunamochi miyushi ([...]の衝つく神砂もちみゆし), perhaps suggesting a sunamochi for the god of the rainy season. Tama's courtly robes, elaborately patterned, are printed with extensive golden-brass metallics.

There is another impression of this design in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Accession Number 11.36447).