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Eighteen Kabuki Plays: Narukami

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Torii Kiyotada VII, VII, Japanese, (active 1875–1941)
Torii Kiyosada, Japanese, (1844–1901)
Eighteen Kabuki Plays: Narukami, 1896
Ink on Paper
36.4 cm x 24.4 cm (14 5/16 in. x 9 5/8 in.)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2001.2.36


Alternate Title: Kabuki Juhachiban: Narukami

Commentary
“Eighteen Kabuki Plays : Thunder God / Kabuki juhachiban : Narukami”
by Torii Kiyosada (1844-1901) & Kiyotada VII (active 1875-1941) 1896

The powerful Buddhist priest Narukami Shonin, played by Danjuro IX, is upset with the emperor and captures the dragon that brings rain. The emperor sends the beautiful Princess Taema to tempt the ascetic, who is filled with desire and drinks too much wine. Narukami reveals that the dragon is hidden in the waterfall behind his hermitage. Taema releases the dragon and escapes herself. The priest then becomes a thunder god.

Marks
Signed: 'Torii Kiyosada' with red square seal and 'Tadakiyo' with red circle seal.

Medium
Colored ink woodblock on off-white paper. Oban tate-e.

Object Description
Meiji period color woodblock print with two scenes of the actor Ichikawa Danjuro in character.

In the play entitled Narukami, a Buddist monk named Narukami is furious at the emperor, captures the rain-causing dragon, and causes a terrible drought. The frightened emperor sends a beautiful princess, Kumo no Taema, to seduce Narukami. Her mission is a success, and she frees the dragon before escaping herself. When Narukami wakes up he finds the princess gone and rain falling. He becomes furious and vows vengeance.

This print portrays the monk and his temptress in quiet poses. Tadamasa based his large print on Kiyotada’s small 1938 print, which in turn copies an early 17th century image of Ichikawa Danjuro playing Narukami.

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