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Archive: Yoshikuni (芳國)

Mitate (analogue picture: 見立) of contemporary actors as the Rokkasen (Six immortal poets: 六歌仙). (Middle C) Nakamura Matsue III as Ono no Komachi; (Top C) Arashi Kitsusaburô II as Bun'ya no Yasuhide; (Top R) Nakamura Utaemon III as Kisen Hôshi; (Bottom R) Nakamura Shikan II as Ariwara no Narihira; (Top L) Ichikawa Ebijûrô I as Sôjô Henjô; and (Bottom L) Ichikawa Danzô V as Ôtomo no Kuronushi
Toyokawa Yoshikuni ga
No artist seal
Honya Seishichi (seal: Honsei)
c. 1/1827
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
36.5 x 24.6 cm
Very good color and condition (unbacked, expertly repaired wormhole lower right corner, slight foxing)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: YSK17


The Rokkasen (Six poetic immortals: 六歌仙) were six celebrated poets of the ninth century whose names were first linked together in the poetic anthology Kokin wakashû (Collection of ancient and modern poems: 古今集) in 905 AD. The term kasen (immortals of waka, 和歌, or Japanese poems) was derived from the Chinese term shixian (詩仙 Immortals of poems) and may have been adopted by anthologists of the Rokkasen by the mid-10th century. The poets were Ariwara no Narihira (在原業平), the priest Sôjô Henjô (僧正遍昭), the monk Kisen Hôshi (喜撰法師), Ôtomo no Kuronushi (大友黒主), Bun'ya no Yasuhide (文屋康秀) and Ono no Komachi (小野 小町). They were the subject of numerous ukiyo-e prints of many types, among them dance dramas as well as mitate-e (analog prints: 見立絵) in which the Rokkasen were associated with modern-day figures (frequently fashionable beauties, courtesans, or dandies of the pleasure quarters).


This grouping of kabuki performers is another type of mitate, namely one in which these particular actors did not, as far as is known, take on these roles in the same production. See Dean Schwaab, Osaka Prints, no. 103 for another impression.