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Artist: Shunshosai Hokuchō (春曙斎北頂)

Print: Ichikawa Ebijūrō II (市川鰕十郎) as Horiguchi Manemon (堀口万右衛門) -
the right panel of a triptych from the play Sao no uta Kizugawa hakkei
(Song of the boat pole: Eight views of the Kizu River - 棹歌木津川八景)

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Dates: 1829,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Shunshosai Hokuchō ga
春曙斎北頂画
Publisher: Honya Seishichi
(Marks 123 - seal 25-527)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - the full triptych; Tokyo Metropolitan Library; Hankyu Culture Foundation;

Physical description:

This image commemorates a performance of the drama Sao no Uta Kizugawa Hakkei at the Kado Theater 1829/7.

This is the right panel of a triptych depicting actors Ichikawa Ebijūrō II as Horiguchi Manemon (R), Arashi Rikan II as Kizu Kansuke and Nakayama Bunshichi III as Hayashi Sanzaemon (C), and Asao Gakujūrō I as the ferryman Sanjūrō (L)

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Illustrated in Ikeda Bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei, vol. 2, Osaka, 1998, No 198.

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Complete triptych at MFA Boston

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Notice that the main figure, Ebijūrō II, in the front, is wearing a garment that is decorated with stylized gourds among leaves and tendrils. This same outfit appears on Manemon in a diptych by Kunihiro and Shigenao. This costume hides a more subtle message in plain sight: the gourd is made up of the stylized characters for Ebijūrō's family name - Ichikawa (市川).

The nature of the outfits in the whole triptych would indicate that this nighttime battle is taking place during warm weather - probably summertime. Not visible here are the other parts of the triptych. The dominant fellow, a ferryman, in the left-hand panel is using a large wooden oar or tiller to subdue his opponent.

Although we know the name of the play we do not know the story line. However, we do know that it was written by the Osaka-born playwright Namiki Gohei I (1747-1808) and premiered in 7/1778.

This print is from Ebijūrō II's last performance in 1829. He played the villain and fell ill during this time dying 11 months later, having never returned to the stage.