Toyokuni III Utagawa, Benten Kozo, Kabuki, Tattoo Design

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Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Toyokuni III Utagawa (1786-1864)
Title: Benten Kozo in 'Shiranami Gonin Otoko' (The Five Bandits)
Publisher: Maruya Jinpachi
Date: 1862
Condition: Centrefolds restored on centre and right panels, paper loss restored on left panel, misprinting, creases, minor stains on the top of left panel
Size: (R)24.5 x 35.3 (C) 24.7 x 35.2 (L) 25.3 x 36.7 cm

First staged in March 1862 in Edo, Benten Kozo remains to the present day a very popular performance. The play features a staged shoplifting scene in the Hamamatsuya textile shop where two bandits, Benten Kozo and Nango Rikimaru in the guise of a samurai’s daughter and her escort, who act as if they had stolen a piece of cloth. The shopkeeper is unaware of the plot, but the disguised thieves pretend to be wrongly accused and demand compensation instead. Their identities are eventually revealed and one of kabuki’s famous moments is when Benten removes the sleeve of his kimono from his arm and shoulder, revealing a tattooed arm.

More Information
Print Format Triptych
Artist Name Toyokuni III Utagawa (Kunisada I)
Title Benten Kozo in 'Shiranami Gonin Otoko'
Subject Male & Female, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo
Dimensions (R)24.5 x 35.3 (C) 24.7 x 35.2 (L) 25.3 x 36.7 cm
Publisher Maruya Jinpachi