- Museum number
Woodblock print. Actor Sanjo Kantaro as female tea-seller, selling Uji tea and carrying brazier, jars of tea, and teabowls in baskets. With hand-colouring and a mixture of ink and glue to imitate black lacquer. Inscribed, signed, sealed and marked.
- Production date
- 1716-1736 (c.)
Height: 32.80 centimetres
Width: 15.90 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Wandering through busy neighbourhoods and offering refreshment to passersby, the itinerant tea vendor was a familiar part of daily life in pre-modern Japan. Here, the Kabuki actor Sanjô Kantarô performs as a female tea vendor selling steeped green tea (senjicha) from Uji, one of Japan’s most famous tea-growing regions. The character may actually be a high-ranking lady in disguise.
The actor represents a travelling seller of Uji tea. She carries in her baskets a brazier, jars of tea, and teabowls with which she could brew samples for customers. The print is signed 'The brush of the Japanese craft-artist Nishimura Shigenaga'.
Smith et al 1990
Sanjo Kantaro here plays the Kabuki role of a fashionably dressed woman who sells Uji tea from her portable stall, in which the necessary brazier, kettle, tea jar, water pot and cups, etc., have all been carefully delineated. The hand-colouring of this specimen is particularly rich and sensitive -dominated by hues of red, pink and purple - and is further enlivened by glossy glue applied to the black over-kimono (in imitation of black lacquer) and sprinklings of brass dust on the 'obi' ('sash'), butterfly crest on the sleeve, and lid of the kettle.
Kantaro has slipped off the right sleeve of the over-kimono to display a wave- and chrysanthemum-pattern kimono underneath, and his elegantly arched eyebrows and cocked little finger suggest the role of some celebrated beauty in humble disguise.
Hillier, Jack, 'Japanese Colour Prints', London, 1966, reprinted 1975, no. 6.
Ueno Royal Museum (Ueno no Mori Bijutsukan), 'Daiei Hakubutsukan shozo ukiyo-e meisakuten', ed. Narazaki Muneshige, Tokyo, 1985, no. 31.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 Sep – 2013 Apr, BM G91, ‘Ritual and revelry: the art of drinking in Asia'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number