Onoe Tamizô II (1799-1886; 尾上多見蔵), the son of a theater hairdresser, was a skillful dancer and versatile actor. He had a long, successful career and a devoted following in the middle theaters in Osaka from the 1920s (by 1833, he also performed in the larger theaters, such as the Kado and Naka). Tamizô studied with Onoe Kikugorô III in Edo for three years, then returned to Osaka in 1823. He had several sojourns in Edo thereafter. Tamizô tended to be a flamboyant showman and was short, overweight, and reputedly illiterate. (His weight problem is evident in portraits issued later in his career.) Nevertheless, there was a coterie of artists in Osaka, led by Gatôken (Toryûken) Shunshi, devoted to depicting Tamizô.
Tamizô holds a kanzashi (ornamental hair pin: 簪) wrapped in a cloth. The background pattern is especially interesting, with what might be large, highly stylized blue or red yaguruma (arrow wheels: 矢車). There are also subtle shibori (絞り) shapes in the form of pine needles and plum blossoms. Shibori textiles are made with shaped-resist dyeing (tie-dyed or dappled patterns on fabric in the form of radiating dots or "puncture holes"). The term derives from the word shiboru, meaning to wring, squeeze, or press. One very commonly encountered shibori pattern in ukiyo-e prints was called hitta kanoko (bound dots: 匹田鹿の子); another was kanoko (fawn coat: 鹿の子). Variations included yokobiki kanoko (square ring dots) and hon hitta kanoko (dots within squares). The popular asa-no-ha (hemp leaf) pattern was frequently made with the hitta kanoko technique.
This is the left-hand sheet of a rare diptych, with the right sheet depicting Nakayama Yoshio II as Makake Koito. [We thank Bogdan Prosciewicz for the identification of the right-hand sheet and the play/production date.]
References: KNP, vol. 6, p. 408.