Witty Matchings of the Thirty-Six Poets (Mitate Sanjurokkasen no uchi)

Maker(s)
Artist: Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 (1786-1864)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1852: 7th month
Medium
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 36.2 x 25.3 cm (14 1/4 x 9 15/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S2004.3.146
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Print
Type

Woodblock print

Keywords
actor, Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kabuki, poems, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

In this print, Ichikawa Danjuro VI is depicted in the role of Arajishi Otonosuke in a play dealing with the troubles of the Date clan in the fourteenth century. He wears the striking kumadori stage makeup that was introduced by Danjuro I in the late seventeenth century. He holds an iron-framed fan that he used as a weapon in the play to thwart Nikki Danjo, the villain who transformed himself into a rat to steal a scroll. This print is one of a series created by Kunisada in 1852, when he produced a large number of half-length actor portraits. In this series, each actor is matched with one of the Thirty-six Poets, in this case Mibu no Tadamine (flourished 898-920). The poem alludes to the rat-day of the New Year when pine seedlings were gathered as auspicious symbols of longevity:

 Rat-day festivities-
 if there were no pine saplings in the fields
 to serve as a symbol of long life
 what would we have to pull up?

Translation of poem by John T. Carpenter

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 43, pp. 140-141.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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