Chikashige Morikawa, Kabuki Play, Tempo Suikoden, Tattoo Design


Artist: Chikashige Morikawa (Active in 1869-1880s)
Title: Kabuki Play, Tempo Suikoden
Publisher: Miura Takeaki
Date: 1877
Size: (L) 23.6 x 35.5, (C) 23.6 x 35.5, (R) 23.6 x 35.4 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Suikoden (Water Margin) is a 14th century Chinese novel about 108 rebels and heroic bandits, very popular in Japan in the Edo period (1603-1868). The characters were also outlaws and brigands, often tattooed and seen as men of honour who would rebel against bureaucracy, a Robin-Hood-like band that made the story of a revolutionary novel with implications resenting the authority of the time. Many Japanese novels imitating the Suikoden were dramatised as kabuki plays. Here, Chikashige has depicted major kabuki actors in roles from a modern interpretation of the popular story. Artists showed actors in imagined settings, often with high-fashion hairstyles and tattoos they probably did not have in real life, but with symbolism that were a match to their personalities.

Chikashige Morikawa

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Print FormatTriptych
ArtistChikashige Morikawa
SubjectKabuki Theatre, Tattoo Design
Dimensions(L) 23.6 x 35.5, (C) 23.6 x 35.5, (R) 23.6 x 35.4 cm
Condition ReportSome rubbing and backing residue, creases, light stain due to colour oxidisation on the right panel.