Toyohara Kunichika, 1835-1900
One Hundred Roles of Onoe Baiko: no. 83, Masakado
(Baiko hyaku-shu no uchi: Masakado)
with mica highlights, signed Toyohara Kunichika hitsu, with artist's seal Toshidama, carver's seal Nisei Hori Ei (Nisei Watanabe Hori Ei ryu), publisher's seal of Fukuda Kumajiro, dated Meiji jurokunen (Meiji 26 )
oban tate-e 14 3/8 in., 36.5 cm by 9 5/8 in., 24.3 cm
The actor Onoe Kikugoro V (Onoe Baiko V, 1844-1903) is in the role of Masakado, a character based on a historical 10th century samurai warrior of the Taira clan during the Heian period of Japan who led an ill-fated rebellion against the Emperor in Kyoto. He is featured in the play Shibaraku (Wait a Moment!) with the name Kiyohara no Takehira, a usurper who has taken the prince and princess hostage. The inset panel depicts the actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX (1838-1903) in the role of Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa, a warrior who defeats Takehira and delivers the play's most infamous line. As Takehira is prepared to execute the two royals, a resounding "shibaraku!" echoes from behind a curtain. In a flourish of high drama, Gongoro enters on the hanamichi (raised platform extending from the stage into the audience) to tell the audience a story before rescuing the prisoners and killing the evil Takehira once and for all. After defeating the villains, the actor portraying Gongoro would introduce himself to the audience in what was a highly sought after moment of public recognition. Modern productions of the play are based on the staging defined by Danjuro IX which is referenced in this composition.
This lavishly-produced series utilized expensive embellishments such as metallic printing, mica highlights and embossing to celebrate the career of Onoe Kikugoro V (also known by his literary name Baiko), a close friend of Kunichika's and one of the most important kabuki actors of the Meiji period.
Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, p. 93
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