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Artist: Shunbaisai Hokuei (春梅斎北英)

Print: Arashi Rikan II (嵐璃寛) as Oguri Hangan (小栗判官) astride is steed, Onikage [鬼鹿毛]

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Dates: created,1833
Dimensions: 10.375 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Inscription:

Signed: Shunkōsai Hokuei ga
春江斎北英画
Publisher: Honsei (Honya Seishichi)
(Marks 123 - seal 25-527)

Related links: Google map - Fujisawa ward - look for Enoshima at the bottom; Hankyu Culture Foundation; Museum of Fine Arts - Sadatora print of Okura Hangan Sukeshige on Onikage; Lyon Collection - Nobukatsu print of Oguri Hangan;Lyon Collection - Shigeharu print of Oguri Hangan;

Physical description:

Arashi Rikan II as Oguri Hangan in Hime kurabe futaba ezōshi (姫競双葉絵草紙 - "Picturte-book comparison of twin blades and the princess") performed at the Naka Theater, Osaka in 1/1833.

Background - Part One:

Susan Matisoff in her article "The Log Cabin Emperor: Marginality and the Legend of Oguri Hangan" in Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, vol. 13, 2002-2003, wrote on page 370 about Hangan, who is about to marry the daughter of Yokoyama, who would like to prevent the marriage. Yokoyama asks Hangan to amuse him with his skills by riding Onikage, the demon horse which devours men like other horses eat hay. "The horse confronting Oguri is a terrifying, Dappled-Demon, (Onikage 鬼鹿毛).

Like sticks tossed in divination, everywhere across the fields are skeletons, leavings of Dappled-Demon's constant meals...

Four chō in all directions the ground is cleared and surrounded by a moat. Eight pillars stand to the right and left, firmly jammed into the ground. They are made of camphor tree trunks so huge it would take eighty-five men to bring one from the mountains. Between them he sees smaller pillars, pillars of chestnut with a girth the span of three men's arms. They are firmly jammed into the ground. They are cross-braced so the horse cannot pull them out from the roots. The horse is fettered. An iron grating stretches between the pillars, and it too is well braced. He is chained in four directions, chained to the eight pillars.
Oguri is a match for this carnivorous phantasm. Realizing that the horse cannot be bested by strength alone, Oguri subdues him with the power of words intoning this senmyō 宣命.
Hey, Dappled-Demon, if you are a sentient being, prick up your ears and listen carefully! Other horses are kept tethered in ordinary stables. They eat the fodder people give them, and they obey their masters, so they are shown consideration. Then sometimes, while tethered outside the gate, they may hear sutra readings and prayers and turn their thoughts to their future incarnations.

But for some reason, Dappled-Demon, you eat people, so I've heard. That makes you a devil among beasts. People are living beings, and so are you. When one living being eats another, what do you suppose becomes of him in future lives, Dappled-Demon? However that may be, now, for honor's sake, let me have a go at riding you. If you let me have a go at riding you, then after your death I'll build a golden-halled temple with a statue of your likeness coated in black lacquer, Dappled-Demon. You will be known as Horsehead Kannon. The cow is a transformation body of Dainichi nyorai 大日如来. What do you think Dappled-Demon?

After Oguri's speech to the horse it says:
This is not visible to others, but Dappled-Demon can see the character for 'rice' written thrice on Oguri's forehead and can see he has four pupils in his eyes. Truly, in reverence to Oguri, he folds his front legs and golden tears flow from both his eyes. Were he human, he would surely say, "Ride me!"

Matisoff continues on page 372: "The horse submits. Oguri rips open his cage. Riding bareback and using all sorts of secret whip techniques, he takes the horse through the fields, up and down a ladder, across a roof, up and down a pine tree at the corner of a kickball court, and across a shōji 障子 without tearing a bit of the paper, even managing to get Dappled-Demon to balance with all four feet on a go board. Arresting enough even verbally, this surely would have been one of the liveliest scenes in a sekkyō-bushi."

It should be noted that Oguri Hangan is both god (kami) and human, "...an arahitogami - an awesome and powerful deity..." that like total powers and suffers incredibly as both a man and a god.

Background - Part Two:

"This dramatic portrayal is one of Hokuei's most animated single sheets. Oguri rides his black steed, Onikage, into the sea at Fujisawa (station no. 7 along the Tôkaidô) in Sagami Province, with the island of Enoshima in Sagami Bay and Mt. Fuji in the distance. Oguri was celebrated for his horsemanship; many portraits show him on Onikage, a fierce equine that could be controlled only by Oguri. (Other popular images in various media depict Oguri with his horse standing on a goban or go board). The play was one of the Oguri Hangan mono ("Oguri Hangan plays"), their plots based on various Oguri legends as well as the military chronicle Kamakura daizôshi ("Great copybook of Kamakura") concerning the master of the Hitachi Castle, Oguri Hangan no Sukeshige, and his wife Yokoyama Terute-hime. Oguri's father Oguri Mitsushige, a provincial daimyô, failed in his revolt against the ruling Ashikaga clan, whereupon father and son were forced into hiding."

This information is taken directly from the seller, Osakaprints.com.

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Illustrated in Ikeda Bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei (Collected Kamigata Actor Prints), vol. 1, Ikeda Bunko Library, Osaka 1997, no. 306.

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There are other prints in the Lyon Collection from this play's production in 1833. Another one is by Hokuei (#1205) and one by Kunihiro (#1090).

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Onikage (鬼鹿毛) literally means 'fawn-colored demon horse'. Clearly Hokuei has taken artistic license here in making it into a black steed.