Priest Dentatsu

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World: Ito Koryu; Priest Dentatsu
(Azuma no nishiki ukiyo kodan: Ito Koryu; Priest Dentatsu )

signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu, with artist's seal Kiri, publisher's seal Kinkyu (Omiya Kyujiro of Kiyudo), and combined censor and date seal Tatsu-ichi, aratame (year of the dragon [1868], 1st lunar month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 1/2 in., 35.8 by 24 cm

The character is identified as So Dentatsu (Priest Dentatsu) from a story credited to Ito Koryu. The priest Dentatsu makes an appearance in De Benneville's compilation of folk tales, Tales of the Tokugawa II: Bakemono yashiki (The Haunted House) in chapters 19 and 20, titled A Matter of Pedestrianism and The Affair of Kishuke. In the story, the priest is followed on a journey along the Tokaido road from the San'en-zan Zojo-ji Temple in Shiba village to deliver collections to its parent temple, the Chion-in in Kyoto. The priest eventually wearies of looking over his shoulder and insists that his somewhat diminutive pursuer, Jinbei, join in pace rather than shadow his progress. Along the route, the priest is never quite sure if he can trust his companion, who seems to be somewhat of a shape-shifter capable of unexplained talents and tremendous strength. When the pair takes a room at an inn in Yoshida, they are woken in the middle of the night due to a great fire consuming the village. Jinbei leads Dentatsu to safety, and the look back to see the conflagration "of glittering flying sparks like the gold dashes on aventurine lacquer ware."

The series Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World (Azuma no hana ukiyo kodan) illustrates episodes of stories as paraphrased in the descriptive cartouches by the writer Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894). Robun was the son of a fishmonger who partnered with the artist Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) to set up shop as a literary subcontractor. He wrote comic fiction and supplied texts for ukiyo-e, and became a frequent contributor to woodblock prints. Published jointly by seven different publishers, the series title includes a pun of the word 'kodan' which phonetically means 'story-telling,' but the first of the two characters is here substituted by one that means 'rough draft' or 'manuscript,' thus emphasizing Robun's abbreviation of the tales. The subjects depicted are from folklore, kabuki theater, and novels, and the names of the storytellers follow the series title in the red oblong cartouche in the shape of a page-turner. Robun's texts are inscribed on the pages of a folded book.

Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 24

James Seguin De Benneville, Tales of the Tokugawa II: Bakemono Yashiki (The Haunted House), 1921, chapters 19-20
Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 371, no. 202.16
Eric van den Ing & Robert Schaap, Beauty and Violence, 1992, p. 105, no. 20.16
Peter Duus, 'Japan's First Manga Magazine,' in Impressions, no. 21, 1999, pp. 31-32 (re: Robun)
Amy Reigle Newland & Chris Uhlenbeck, Yoshitoshi: Masterpieces from the Ed Fries Collection, 2011, pp. 89-90
Yuriko Iwakiri, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiyo 196), 2012, pp. 60, 286



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site last updated
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Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
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ph: (212) 585-0474
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