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Travellers

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Torii Kiyonobu II, Japanese, (1706–1763)
Nakamura Shichisaburo I as Chihara Sakonnosuke and Hayakama... (Reproduction), c. 1735
Ink on Paper
12 11/16 in. x 6 5/16 in. (322.26 mm x 160.34 mm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. James W. Johnson
Accession Number: 46.1.142


Commentary
Reproduced by Adachi (seal on verso).

Nakamura Shichisaburo I & Hayakawa Hatsuse
Reproduction of a design by Torii Kiyonobu, 1702

Nakamura Shichisaburo (1662-1708) was famous for his roles as an elegant gentleman / wagotoshi, and here he accompanies the beautiful courtesan Okuni, played by the actor Hayakawa Hatsuse (1680?-1730), probably in a scene from the play Shida Kaikeizan. This print depicts a stroll / michiyuki, a dance sequence in which two lovers walk elegantly across the stage (and perhaps down a ramp through the audience) while wistfully describing the transient qualities of the world around them.

Marks
Japanese text on the left edge, lower and on the right edge, lower.

Medium
Hosoban, tan'e (handcolored print); woodblock.

Object Description
Edo period color woodblock print with an image of a woman and a man (actors). In the early 17th century both men and women played parts in the kabuki theater, but the Tokugawa family military government in 1629 banned women from appearing on-stage, due to concerns about prostitution and public morals. At first young boys played women’s roles, but they, too, were soon prohibited for the same reasons. Thus from the mid-17th century until the present, all female roles are performed by men. Some actors specialize in only women’s parts, while other actors play both sexes, sometimes in the same play.

This print depicts a michiyuki (stroll), a dance sequence in which two lovers walk elegantly across the stage (and perhaps down a ramp through the audience) while describing the transient beauty of the world around them. Usually this precedes a shinju (double suicide), so that their comments produce a feeling of great sadness.

Publisher
Mitohama-cho Iga-ya seal.

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