Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Iwai Shijaku as the Strong woman Arajishi Danriki
(Onna Chikaramochi Arajishi Danriki)

signed Gototei Kunisada ga with censor's seal Kiwame and publisher's mark Kyu (Yamamotoya Heikichi of Eikyudo), ca. 1820s

oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.8 by 25.4 cm

This print illustrates the beautiful onnagata Iwai Shijaku I (Hanshiro VII, 1804-1845) in a role identified as the strong woman Arajishi Danriki. She wears a kosode with blue and white ikat plaid misuji-koushi (lit. 'three striped lattice') highlighted with dark green where the stripes cross and a dark green hem with white koushi (lattice). The obi of grey and black plaid on a rose-red ground and gold embroidery along the edges is knotted at the back. Her costume is accessorized with male accoutrements, with a red lacquer inro (stacked boxes) suspended at her hip and a long sword tucked into the obi. She stands eagerly pushing up the sleeves of her kimono as though preparing for a tussle.

Checkered, plaid or lattice patterns, collectively known as koushi (also koshi or -goushi) were very popular for all genders and purposes. Named for latticework typically used for room dividers, the grid motif was associated with strength; the larger the stripes, the greater the power.

Beloved actors were tastemakers, inspiring fashion and beauty trends by what they wore on and off stage. Even the way artists such as Kunisada depicted their faces had an influence on concepts of idealized beauty. Shijaku I, and his brother Iwai Hanshiro VI (1799-1836), were known for their open expressions with wide eyes and slight underbite, features that are occaisonally found on prints depicting female beauties.

Waseda University Theatre Museum, ref. no. 002-1384

(inv. no. 10-5365)

price: $900

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)



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site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
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