- Museum number
Woodblock print. The Kabuki actors Ichikawa Danzo and Otani Hiroji I in a version of the 'Kusazuri-biki' scene from Soga plays: Danzo trying to hurl the boat into sea, and Hiro crashing through the side to prevent him. With 'tan' (red) applied by hand.
- Production date
Height: 68.70 centimetres (external mount)
Height: 52.60 centimetres
Width: 51 centimetres (external mount)
Width: 31.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
One of the most striking hand-coloured prints of the early Torii school in the large 'kakemono-e' (hanging scroll painting) format. The style, later described as 'gourd legs and worm line,' suits the 'rough stuff' (aragoto) acting. (Label copy, TTC 1998)
It is not certain which of two plays performed in 1717 this is. The incident shows Danzo trying to hurl a boat into the sea. Hiro crashes through the side to prevent him. The violent, shorthand style is typical of the Torii School of artists in their depiction of 'aragoto' (rough stuff) theatre parts. Such prints were clearly theatrical broadsheets rather than the actor portraits of the next generation, and this has resulted in their rare survival. The print is signed Torii Kiyonobu.
Smith et al 1990
The 'Armour-tugging' episode, originally a trial of strength between the characters Soga no Goro and Kobayashi Asahina, was a scene often inserted into other, unrelated Kabuki plays. Actor critiques of 1717 describe how it was due to be performed 'underwater' in the play 'The Battle of Coxinga' ('Kokusenya gassen') at the Ichimura theatre that summer. A large signboard was painted to hang outside the theatre, but then the scene was cancelled at the last moment. This large print, showing Hiroji bursting out through the side of a boat to grasp Danzo's armour, may well have been based on that (now lost) signboard, since Torii artists were responsible for designing them as well as prints and illustrated programmes.
The exaggerated, muscular drawing style of the early Torii artists was aptly described by a later Japanese critic as 'gourd-shaped legs and wriggling worm line' and was admirably suited to capturing the 'rough stuff ('aragoto') acting style of Edo. The print is enlivened with bold orange lead pigment ('tan') applied by hand.
Ueno Royal Museum (Ueno no Mori Bijutsukan), 'Daiei Hakubutsukan shozo ukiyo-e meisakuten', ed. Narazaki Muneshige, Tokyo, 1985, no. 13.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 13 Oct-1998 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image
1998 9 Feb-3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image
2006 Oct 13-2007 Feb 11, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
2010 Jun-Oct, BM Japanese Galleries, ‘Japan from prehistory to the present’
2013-2014, Oct-Feb BM Japanese Galleries, ‘Japan from prehistory to the present’
2016 Jan-Feb, Japan, Chiba, Chiba City Art Museum, 'Ukiyo-e'
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Kusazuri-biki
- Acquisition date
- Registration number