Kunichika Toyohara, Onoe Kikugoro, Tattoo Design

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Artist: Kunichika Toyohara (1835-1900)
Title: Kunichika Manga no.6; Actor Onoe Kikugoro Plays as Oniazami Seikichi
Series: Flowers of Tokyo - Kunichika's Caricatures
Publisher: Yorozuya Magobei
Date: 1872
Condition report: Slightly soiled, restored wormholes, backed thin areas.
Size: 36.4 x 24.2 cm

The tattoos in prints in which thistles appear are without exception related to the story of Keisuke (Seikichi). He was a notorious bandit who was caught, found guilty of murder and beheaded in 1805 at the age of thirty. As a young boy he was trained to become a Buddhist priest, but after a few years of education he failed in his duty and was forced to become a vagabond. He soon excelled in displaying bravura and also became known for his hot-tempered character, for which he was nicknamed Oniazami and also Hinotama. The first is the designation of the plumed and common thistle. It literally means 'Devil Thistle', while the translation of the second nickname is 'Fireball'.

 

In this print, vagabond Seikichi, here impersonated by the actor Onoe Kikugoro V, is using a bamboo pole to escape from his pursuers. The thistles in his tattoo are referring to the vagabond's nickname and hot-tempered character.

More Information
Artist Name Kunichika Toyohara
Title Actor Onoe Kikugoro Plays as Oniazami Seikichi
Subject Samurai & Male, Kabuki
Condition Report Slightly soiled, restored wormholes, backed thin areas.
Dimensions 36.4 x 24.2 cm
Publisher Yorozuya Magobei