Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Onoe Kikugorō III (尾上菊五郎 ) as the carpenter or daiku Rokuza ( 大工六三) from the play Keisei Date No Kikigaki (けいせい伊達抄)

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Dates: circa 1820,created
Dimensions: 10.125 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
Publisher: Ōmiya Heihachi
(Marks 413 - seal 01-108)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Ritsumeikan University; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1826 Ashiyuki print of Kikugorō III as Rokuza in the same play; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1858 Toyokuni III print of Rokuza; Lyon Collection - 1852 Kuniyoshi and Yoshiiku print of Rokuza fighting a giant carp;Lyon Collection - another print from this series;Ritsumeikan University - all eight prints from this series over two pages;

Physical description:

Hidden within the plaid pattern of this actor's robe is a secret to his name. "The letters 'ki' and 'ro' are in the checkered pattern formed by the four vertical lines and five horizontal lines. And in this way, the puzzle can be read as 'Kikugoro.' "

Quoted from: Pattern Sourcebook: Japanese Style 2 by Shigaki Nakamura, p. 14.

Karen Marks described this pattern on a print by a different artist in an article on yukata worn during the Edo period: "A similar play on words can be found in the signature design of Onoe Gorō III depicted in the print by Utagawa Kuniyasu (1794-1832). The actor is depicted on stage in the role of Tamaya Shinbei. His kimono has a design of four vertical stripes and five horizontal ones, and in between the hiragana character for “ki” and the Sino-Japanese character pronounced “ro.” Five is pronounced “go” in Japanese and the stripes added together make nine, pronounced “ku.” Combined together this rebus reads “ki-ku-go-ro” forming the actor’s name. This design too, called “Kikugorō-kōshi,” is now commonly seen in men’s yukata..."


The text reads: 機織の手拭古し梅の花 扇舎梅幸