Life of Honchomaru Tsunagoro saved by divine favor at Naritasan
(Honchomaru Tsunagoro Narita-san no gorieki nitei ayauku ichimei wo tasukaru no tokoro)
signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, publisher's seal Wakasaya, Shiba Shinmeimae (Wakasaya Yoichi of Jakurindo), censor's seals Fuku and Muramatsu, and Shita-uri (discreet sale) seal, 1851, 9th month
oban tate-e triptych 14 by 29 in., 35.6 by 73.8 cm
In the right panel, the actor Ichikawa Kuzo II (Ichikawa Danzo VI, 1800-1871) is in the role of Kongara Doji, in the center panel, the actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) is in the roles of Fudo of Mount Narita and Hiranoya Tokubei, later Honchomaru Tsunagoro, and in the left panel the actor Bando Shuka I (1813-1855) is in the role of Seitaka Doji, from the play Shinpan kosohi no shiranami (Newly Published: Bandit of the River Crossing), the second part of Genji Moyo Furisode Hinagata (Model for a Robe in Genji Pattern). Fudo of Mount Narita is Fudo Myo-o, 'The Immovable,' a fiery deity who holds a sword to punish the guilty and a rope to catch the wicked and lead them to true knowledge. His acolytes are Kongara, holding a white lotus flower on the right, and Seitaka, a red man with a club on the left.
The rescue of Hiranoya, who is clutching Fudo's rope, is both a physical and a spiritual salvation. Danjuro played both roles by performing haya-gawari (lit. 'lightening costume change'). The Danjuro family worshiped the deity Fudo ever since an early Danjuro prayer to the god for a child was answered. Their yago (house-name) is for that reason 'Naritaya,' and the actors regularly performed misogi (a ritual purification associated with Fudo) at the Shinshoji waterfall.
Arendie and Hank Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, p. 322 (re: play)
Timothy Clark, Kuniyoshi from the Arthur Miller Collection, 2009, cat. 116, p. 246 (re: Fudo Myo-o)
Freer and Sackler Gallery of the National Museums of Asian Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. (asia.si.edu), from the Freer Study Collection, accession nos. FSC-GR-743a-c
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession nos. 11.44039a-c
price: $ 1,500
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