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Plays and Theatre

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Toyohara Kunichika, Japanese, (1835–1900)
New and Old Dramas: 1 of 10, Modori Bridge, 1898
Ink on Paper
13 13/16 in. x 28 in. (35.08 cm x 71.12 cm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2005.1.19


Edition
Fine colors. Fine impressions with gauffrage, lacquer and silver pigment.

Marks
Text is printed in the upper right and lower right of the right panel, with a box-shaped seal in the lower right. Signed in the lower right of the middle panel.

Medium
Colored ink woodblock print; oban triptych.

Object Description
Meiji period color woodblock triptych depicting the kabuki actor Ichikawa Sadanji I (1842-1904), as the 12th century hero Watanabe Tsuna. He confronts the beautiful woman Sayuri, who is a demon in disguise, played by the actor Onoe Kikugoro V (1844-1903).

This is a famous scene in the Kabuki drama 'Modorbashi'. In the background, the bridge and silhouetted mountain landscape under the setting sun.

Tsuna, a general in the army of Minamoto Yorimitsu and one of the 'Shitenno' (Four Heavenly Kings) of the Genji clan, was sent to Kyoto by Yorimitsu. At the Modori bridge, crossing the Hori River at Ichijo in Northwest Kyoto, Tsuna met a woman who tried to seduce him. At first he resisted, but when they crossed the bridge and he saw her reflection in the ater, Tsuna knew she was a demon. They fought and he used the famous Genji clan sword "Higekiri" (Hair Cutter) to defend himself. When he cut off her arm, she turned into the demon Ibaraki and flew off to Mt. Atago. The play was performed October 1890 at the Kabukiza.

"This print illustrates a scene from the kabuki play “Modori Bridge” in which a demon in the guise of the beautiful Sayuri (played by Onoe Kikugoro V) attempts to seduce the heroic warrior Watanabe Tsuna (played by Ichikawa Sadanji). Here, we see the demon playfully peeking out from underneath her shawl, as if revealing a secret, while the suspicious Tsuna looks on. Upon crossing the Modori Bridge, Sayuri’s reflection in the water revealed her to be a demon, and she flees to Mt. Atago, which is depicted in the background."
(LD, student in 2010 seminar ARHI154 Japanese Prints)

Publisher
Fukuda Kumajiro

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