Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
A Popular Selection of Six Flowers: A Handmade Flower
(Furyu rokkasen no uchi: Tsukuri-hana)
figures on a stage lit with candles and andon (paper lanterns); signed Kochoro Kunisada ga, with publisher's mark Kyu of Yamamoto-ya Heikichi (Eikyudo); censor's seal kiwame, ca. early 1830s
oban tate-e triptych 14 7/8 by 30 3/8 in., 37.8 by 77.3 cm
This print depicts a scene from the famous kabuki play, Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees, the earliest variation was first performed in 1747 at a puppet theater in Osaka, only one year later a kabuki version was staged in Edo at the Nakamura-za. The story is part history and part fiction, with with magical elements well-suited for a theatrical production. In this scene, Shizuka-gozen (the beloved mistress of Yoshitsune) and Sado Tadanobu (a retainer of Yoshitstune identified by the cartwheel motif on his dark outer-robe) are traveling in the mountains of Yoshino which is resplendent with its famous cherry trees in full bloom. During their journey Shizuka-gozen pauses to plays a fox skin hand-drum, named 'Hatsune.' As she plays the drum Tadanobu dances in a curious fox-like way. Little does she know that it is actually a protective fox-spirit who has taken the form of Tadanobu in order to follow the drum which was actually made from the skin of his parents. In a later scene when Yoshitsune encounters the real Tadanobu and the Fox-Tadanobu, the fox-spirit reveals himself as Shizuka-gozen plays the drum again.
Arendie & Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, pp. 167-177
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site last updated
November 18, 2020
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
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