Height: 328.000 mm
Width: 151.000 mm
Asia JA 1902.1-12.0202
Katsukawa Shunshō, The actor Ichikawa Danjūrō V as Fudō Myō-ō, a colour woodblock print
Edo period, 11th month, AD 1780
A Kabuki actor plays a ferocious deity
Shunshō was the first woodblock print artist to design prints of Kabuki actors which actually captured their likeness (nigao-e). In this example, the immediately recognizable long nose, down-turned mouth and small close-set eyes of Danjūrō V have been superimposed on to the statue-like figure of the deity Fudō Myō-ō.
The Buddhist deity Fudō Myō-ō, 'The Immoveable God of Light', is the chastiser of enemies of the faith. He is always depicted carrying a sword to cut through evil and a rope to bind the enemies of enlightenment. He was also regarded as the tutelary (guardian) deity of the leading Danjūrō Ichikawa line of actors. The deity appears in the play Kite kaeru nishiki no wakayaka in an enormously popular scene, 'The stone statue of Fudō' (Sekizō no Fudō). Danjūrō V played this part four times. This print probably celebrates the opening of the season (kaomise) performance at the Nakamura theatre in the eleventh month of 1780. The deity stands on a rock below a waterfall, surrounded by flames, grasping his attributes of a sword and rope.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
M. Narasaki (ed.), Hizō Ukiyo-e taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987)