fan crest   title
Home •  Recent Update •  Sales Gallery •  Archives
Articles •  Varia •  Glossary •  Biographies •  Bibliography
Search •  Video •  Contact Us •  Conditions of Sale •  Links

Archive: Shigeharu (重春)

Arashi Rikan II as Mashiba Hisatsugu in Keisei setsugekka, Kado Theater, Osaka
Gyokuryûtei Shigeharu ga
No artist seal
Wataki (Wataya Kihei, 綿屋喜兵衞)
(H x W)
Oban nishiki-e (left sheet of a triptych)
38.4 x 27.0 cm
Very good; deluxe edition with some use of metallics (simulated gold)
Very good color; good condition (some slight soil, a few slight marks; 3 small filled wormholes and 4 pinholes in left margin; image full size with margins)
Price (USD/¥):
SOLD  (Ref #SGH07)

The play Keisei setsugekka premiered at the Kado at the New Year in 1830, written by the superstar actor Nakamura Utaemon III under his penname Kanazawa Ryûgoku. Later, just one act (called Kari no tayori) was taken from the whole and performed as a light-hearted piece without the drama featured in the larger play. It is this extracted piece that is mostly known today.

Shigeharu's print depicts a scene from the original full-length play, yet another of the performances featuring the Edo actor Ichikawa Hakuen II (the name used by Ichikawa Danjûrô VII) while acting in Osaka for a brief period after fires destroyed all three theaters in Edo in 3/1829 (not shown here, Hakuen appears on the right sheet of the triptych). Rikan II is portrayed on the left sheet in the role of Mashiba Hisatsugu in one of the many tales about the legendary rônin bandit Ishikawa Goemon. In real life, Goemon, at the age of sixteen, murdered three men during a robbery. He was finally captured many years later in 1594, when the shogun Hideyoshi had him boiled in oil. The Ishikawa Goemon mono (plays about Ishikawa Goemon) endowed the bandit with supernatural powers and devilish abilities to disguise himself, which provided playwrights with opportunities for fantastical action — often aided by clever stagecraft — and surprising plot twists.


The present design shows Mashiba in full armour confronting Goemon on the adjacent center sheet (disguised as a peasant named Gosaku) performed by the playwright, Utaemon III. Mashiba holds a lantern (andon) and grips his long sword (katana) with his other hand (note also the short sword, or wakizashi). Paulownia crests (kiri), long associated with the ruling elite, are part of the design on his black robe, while Rikan's crest, the orange blossom (tachibana), decorates his red sleeve.

The block cutting and printing of this sheet are especially skillful, given the complexity of the patterns in the robe worn by Rikan. The black clouds — which span all three sheets — add an unifying atmosphere of drama to the entire composition.

References: IBKYS-II, no. 129; WAS I-4, no. 419; IKB-I, no. 1-467; KNP-6, p. 227.