Stories of the Famous Women: Kesa Gozen
(Kokon Meifu Den: Kesa Gozen)
signed Kio Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, published by Sakanaya Eikichi of Uoya, with combined censor and date seal Inu-roku, aratame (year of the dog , 6th month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 7/8 in., 35.8 by 25 cm
This composition depicts the tragic beauty Kesa Gozen, whose story is derived from the Heike Monogatari (The Tales of the Heike) and is told in many kabuki plays, notably Mongaku (The Austerities of Mongaku). The warrior Edo Morito (future Priest Mongaku) was fascinated with his cousin, Gozen, who was already happily ensconced in marriage. Through manipulation and bullying, he convinced her to wed him, but she agreed only on the condition that Morito first murder her current husband and then bring her his head. That night, the villainous Morito went to Gozen's marital bedroom and killed the short-haired figure lying in the bed. After hurrying to their predetermined meeting point, he grew impatient waiting for Gozen to arrive. To pass the time, he opened the satchel in which the head was stowed, only to realize that he had killed Gozen herself. The beauty, hoping to preserve her and her family's honor, had cut her hair and died in her husband's stead.
Amy and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, pp. 319-323 (kabuki story)
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March 31, 2020
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