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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

History of Kabuki


Hishikawa Moronobu, Scenes in

Hishikawa Moronobu, Scenes in a theatre tea-house, a handscroll painting

Hishikawa Moronobu, Scenes in a theatre tea-house, a handscroll painting


Height: 315.000 mm
Width: 1470.000 mm

Asia JA JP 1375 (1881.12-10.1710)


The beginnings of Kabuki are usually dated to the spring of 1603, when a troupe led by a woman called Izumo no Okuni first performed on a dry riverbed in Kyoto. They performed exotic dances and risqué skits which had their roots in a variety of new and popular dances that began to appear around the mid-sixteenth century. Women entertainers were relatively unusual, and Okuni's outlandish, cross-dressing performances caused a sensation.

A contemporary spectator recorded his impressions of early Kabuki:

'Of late there is a dance called Kabuki. A woman called Okuni, a shrine-attendant from Izumo, has come up to the capital. She imitates the town dandies, and her sword, dagger, and costume are all most outlandish. The scenes where a man jests with a teahouse girl are popular, and all the classes of the capital flock to view them. She has even danced several times at Fushimi Castle.'

During the first decades of Kabuki, many of its performers, both male and female, also worked as prostitutes offstage. In this scroll painting, young Kabuki actors can be seen entertaining male clients at a teahouse.

Illustration: Hishikawa Moronobu, Scenes in a theatre tea-house, a handscroll painting (Edo period, AD 1685)