Kunisada II Utagawa, Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Kodanji, Tattoo Design


Artist: Kunisada II Utagawa (1823–1880)
Title: Ichikawa Kodanji
Series title: Lacquer Wine Cups with Portraits of Actors
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizo
Date: 1863
Size: 37.4 x 25.3 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

'Edo no hana wa, kaji to kenka' is an old Japanese proverb that translates as 'Fires and fights were the pride of Edo'. Otokodate (chivalrous men) were often depicted in a flamboyant manner and sometimes associated with kabuki actor profiles. Artists showed kabuki actors in imagined settings, often with high-fashion hairstyles and tattoos they probably did not have in real life.

This series by Kunisada II shows portraits of different kabuki actors as seen in the reflection of lacquer wine cups. Actor Ichikawa Kodanji is seen here with a tattoo on his shoulder and a tenugui around his neck. This was a distinctive clothing accessory of the Edo townsmen sometimes used as a headband by the tattooed otokodate and firemen. These towels, called mameshibori tenugui, had a blue polka-dot pattern resembling beans (mame). These were also adopted and worn by heroes of the kabuki stage playing the otokodate roles, as seen in this image.

Toyokuni IV Utagawa (Kunisada II)

No description
More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistToyokuni IV Utagawa (Kunisada II)
SubjectKabuki Theatre, Tattoo Design
Dimensions37.4 x 25.3 cm
Condition ReportLight wear and soiling, wormhole restored, tear on the right top and left, slightly faded.