Kunichika Toyohara, Kabuki, Suikoden, Tattoo Design

Home Catalogue Woodblock Prints Kunichika Toyohara, Kabuki, Suikoden, Tattoo Design
£1600
SKU
JG011805
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Artist: Kunichika Toyohara (1835-1900)
Title: Suikoden Yuki no Danmari (Silence in the Snow)
Publisher: Kodama Matashichi
Date: 1893

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Triptych with actors playing Suikoden heroes Kumonryu (The Nine-dragoned) Shinshin and Kaosho (The Flower Priest) Rochishin fighting each other with long sticks in the kabuki play Suikoden Yuki no Danmari. Kaosho Rochishin's body is tattooed with cherry blossoms and Kumonryu Shinshin is adorned with dragons. Historically, the brief bloom of cherry blossoms symbolises the short life of a warrior, while dragons stand for strength and wisdom as mythical creatures. The 'danmari' of the title is a slow, tense and highly stylised dance, a choreographed performance between two actors in the roles of two heroes of the Suikoden. This play was a success with the audiences partly because of the extraordinary quality of the dance and also because of the dramatic staging and the lavish tattoos that covered the bared bodies of both performers.

Kunichika Toyohara


One of the last great masters of ukiyo-e, Kunichika was inspired by the plays, actors and customs of kabuki theatre. His colourful prints are records of a long lost, decadent underworld of Edo. As a young man, he studied with the ukiyo-e artist Chikanobu, from whom he received his artist name. He then apprenticed under Kunisada and began to produce actor prints in the Utagawa style, though he never used the Utagawa name. Unlike most artists of the period, he made use of strong reds and dark purples, often as background colours, rather than the softer colours that had previously been used. These new colours were made of aniline dyes imported in the Meiji period from Germany. When portraying people he only occasionally showed figures wearing Western dress, despite its growing popularity in Japan. He is also one of the best known artists to have designed a great number of prints featuring tattoos, a genre made popular earlier in Edo period by Kuniyoshi Utagawa.

More Information
Print FormatTriptych
Artist NameKunichika Toyohara
TitleSuikoden Yuki no Danmari (Silence in the Snow)
SubjectSamurai & Male, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo Design
Condition ReportLight soiling, some stains, covered minor holes.