Kiyo-hime Changing into a Serpent Form at Hidaka River

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts: Picture of Kiyo-hime Changing into a Serpent Form at Hidaka River
(Shingata sanjurokkaisen: Kiyohime Hidakagawa ni jatai to naru zu)

signed Yoshitoshi, with artist's seal Taiso, carver's seal Enkatsu, and publisher's date seal Meiji nijusannen, ichigatsu, jugoka; Sasaki Toyokichi, Tokyo, Kyobashi-ku, Owaricho 2-1 (Meiji 23 [1890], January 15) of Sasaki Toyokichi

oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.1 by 25.3 cm

The legend of Kiyo-hime at Dojo-ji Temple was recorded on scrolls at the instruction of the Emperor Go-Komatsu (1377-1433) which remain in safekeeping at the temple to this day. The story of a woman driven mad by unrequited love was retold in a Noh play, Dojo-ji, and adapted in 1753 to the kabuki play, The Maiden at Dojo-ji Temple (Musume Dojo-ji). She is the daughter of an innkeeper who each year hosted the handsome monk Anchin on his annual pilgrimage to Kumano Shrine. On what would be the last of his yearly stays, Kiyo-hime declared her love for Anchin and asked that he reject his sacral vows. When the monk stayed faithful to his promise of celibacy and refused her proposal, she grew enraged and he was forced to abscond to Dojo-ji to escape from her growing wrath. She followed in pursuit, but was obstructed by the flooding of the Hidaka River, across from which lay the temple. Not to be deterred, she transformed into a serpent and swam across the river. In the composition, she is depicted rising from the waters, her tail visible amidst the waves. She would follow Anchin to his temple, where he was hiding beneath a ten foot high bronze bell. In her anger, the serpent-form Kiyo-hime coiled herself around the bell and melted the bronze, killing them both. In the kabuki drama, one of the famous Eighteen Famous Plays (Juhachiban) of Ichikawa Danjuro IX (1838-1903), the serpent spirit of Kiyo-hime returns once again to Dojo-ji to terrorize the monks at the installation ceremony of a replacement bell.

Keyes 1983, p. 488, no. 509.10
Stevenson 1983, p. 40, no. 11
Segi 1985, p. 79, no. 47
van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 141, no. 65.10
Akita Museum of Modern Art 1999, p. 37, no. 129
Stevenson, 2005, p. 104, no. 11
Newland & Uhlenbeck 2011, p. 149, no. 117
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2012, p. 150, no. 223
Iwakiri 2014, p. 151, no. 228



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