Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重)

Print: The Ancient Custom of Attacking the Concubine (Ōko uwanari-uchi no zu - 往古うわなり打の図)

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Dates: 1852,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Hiroshige hitsu
Diamond shaped Hiroshige I seal
Publisher: Maruya Seijirō
(Maks 299 - seal closest to 08-090)
Censor seals: Kinugasa and Murata
Date seal: 8/1852

Related links: Tokyo National Museum (later edition 1852); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, first edition 1843-47, with textual cartouches in middle and left panels; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (later edition 1852); Hagi Uragami Museum of Art - right panel; Hagi Uragami Museum of Art - center panel; Hagi Uragami Museum of Art - left panel; Harvard Art Museums;

Physical description:

Triptych depicting a battle between housewives fighting with kitchen utensils and cleaning tools. This is a slightly altered reprint of a triptych first published in the mid-1840s (this printing omits cartouches which appeared near the top of left and center panels). Both the earlier and the later editions carry the same publisher's seal.


The meaning of the uwanari uchi

"This scene of jealous rage and violence on stage refers to the Muromachi practice called uwanari uchi, or 'secondary wife beating,' which describes the violence committed by a man's original legal wife (konami) who had lost her husband's favor and support against a supplanting secondary wife or wives (uwanari). Uwanari uchi was also performed sporadically during the Heian period (794-1185), but it was not until Muromachi that it became a full-blown social practice. A dramatization of uwanari nchi also occurs in Zeami's Kanawa (Iron crown), in which a jealous wife, who has been cast aside by her philandering husband in favor of another woman, seeks to avenge her humiliation by transforming herself into a demon and attacking a pair of dolls, which serve as substitutes for the husband and his new lover. In the end, her supernatural fury is subdued through the efforts of a sage named Abe no Seimei."

Quoted from: Theatricalities of Power: The Cultural Politics of Noh by Steven T. Brown, pp. 62-63.



1) in color in 原色浮世絵大百科事典 (Genshoku Ukiyoe Daihyakka Jiten), vol. 5, p. 131.

2) in small black and white reproductions in the Illustrated Catalogues of Tokyo National Museum: Ukiyo-e Prints (3), #s 3171-73.