Shakkyo Dancer Mitate
unsigned egoyomi (calendar print), with carver's seal at lower left, hori ko Shiba Yamaguchi (Yamaguchi Shichibei of Shiba Jinmyo-cho), ca. 1791
5 3/8 by 4 7/8 in., 13.6 by 12.3 cm
Possibly attributed to Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820).
A dancer performs within a set of giant peonies while holding boars head puppets in both hands. Layers of her clothing billow around her as she leaps with a high step to her right. She is in the midst of a hengemono (transformation piece) in which her outer robe will fall away to reveal a new costume by the end of the dance. The peonies and the vigorous dancing suggest that this is a variation of the lion dance, shakkyo, however the traditional shishimai elements have been replaced by boars heads in an amusing mitate (parody) of the popular kabuki dance. The numbers on her left sleeve are read as the characters for the long months (dai): 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12; and the short months are on her right sleeve (sho): 2, 7, 9, 11. The combination of long and short months corresponds to 1791, which in the zodiac calendar was a year of the boar.
The subject and presentation compares closely with two egoyomi in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, both of which are dated to 1765, suggesting that the shakkyo dance was an enduring egoyomi mitate.
David Waterhouse, The Harunobu Decade, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2013, Vol. I, pp 363-364, cat. nos. 684-685, accession nos. 11.30130, and 00.4
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