Kunisada III Utagawa, Suikoden, Tattoo Design, Yuki no Danmari


Artist: Kunisada III Utagawa (1848-1920) sealed as Kachoro
Title: New Kabuki Play, Water Margin - Yuki no Danmari Scene
Actors: Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Kumonryu; Ichikawa Sadanji as Rochishin; Ichikawa Saiji as Bandit; Ichikawa Arajiro as Saiteibutsu
Publisher: Tsutsumi Kichizo
Date: 1893
Size: (R) 24.2 x 36.9 (C) 24.1 x 36.7 (L) 24.4 x 36.5 cm

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.

More Information
Print Format Triptych
Artist Name Kunisada III Utagawa
Title New Kabuki Play, Water Margin - Yuki no Danmari
Subject Samurai & Male, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo
Dimensions (R) 24.2 x 36.9 (C) 24.1 x 36.7 (L) 24.4 x 36.5 cm
Condition Report Horizontal crease through the middle. Worn out edges. Pinholes along the margins. Oxidised areas that have been restored.

Kunisada III Utagawa

Utagawa Kunisada III was an ukiyo-e printmaker of the Utagawa school, specializing in yakusha-e (pictures of kabuki actors). He began studying under Utagawa Kunisada I at the age of 10, and continued under Kunisada II after their master's death. He originally signed his prints ‘Kunimasa’ or ‘Baido Kunimasa’. About 1889, he began signing his prints ‘Kunisada’, ‘Baido Kunisada’ or ‘Kochoro Kunisada’. By 1892, he was using ‘Hosai’, ‘Kochoro Hosai’, ‘Baido Hosai’, and ‘Utagawa Hosai’.