Utagawa Kunisada III, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo Design, Suikoden Heroes, Silence in the Snow, Ukiyo-e

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Description

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
Condition: Horizontal crease through the middle. Worn out edges. Pinholes along the margins. Oxidised areas that have been restored.
Size: (R) 24.2 x 36.9 (C) 24.1 x 36.7 (L) 24.4 x 36.5 cm

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.

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