Mirror of the Ages: Horeki (1751-1763)
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Mirror of the Ages: Horeki (1751-1763), 12/5/1896
Ink on Paper
13 1/8 in. x 8 1/2 in. (33.34 cm x 21.59 cm)
Fine impression with gauffrage, lacquer, and silver pigment.
Signed: “Yoshu Chikanobu” with red toshidama seal
Colored ink woodblock print on off-white paper. Oban tate-e.
Midway in the series, Mirror of the Ages, is Horeki no koro (1751-63) which shows a modestly dressed woman, probably a merchant's wife, and the inset depicts the upper facade of the kabuki theater Nakamuraza in Edo. The scene is identified as a kao mise ("face viewing") which was a tradition of actors doing cameo appearances in shows at the beginning of the theater season in November. On the roof of the theater's entryway is a miniature Mt. Fuji flanked by bonsai pines and two mannequins (probably representing the Soga Brothers) and a dragon boat, loaded like a takarabune ("treasure ship"). The banners to the left indicated that Ichikawa Danjuro IV and Iwai Hanshiro III are featured performers, which probably means this kaomise is in 1754, the year Matsumoto Koshiro took the name Danjuro and Iwai Hanshiro retired. The two actors would continue to be close friends, with Danjuro marrying Hanshiro's daughter Omatsu in 1760, the celebrity wedding of the season. Such celebrity gossip would have been of great interest to the wives and daughters of merchants, who enjoyed daytime dramas at the kabuki theater.
Inset: The Kabuki theater Nakamuraza in Edo.
For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.
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