The actor Arashi Otohachi I as Numataro, the retainer of Utou Yasukata, in part two of the play Kogane no Hana Gaijin Aramtlsha (Gold Flowers: The Triumphal Return of Fierce Warriors)
Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1766
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Creator Name: Ippitsusai Buncho
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; fl. c.1755-1790 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Ippitsusai Buncho
Title: The actor Arashi Otohachi I as Numataro, the retainer of Utou Yasukata, in part two of the play Kogane no Hana Gaijin Aramtlsha (Gold Flowers: The Triumphal Return of Fierce Warriors)
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1766
Creation End Date: 1766
Creation Date: Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1766
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Hosoban; 32.0 x 15.4 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Ippitsusai Buncho gaARTIST'S SEAL: Mori uji
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1928.992
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Context: Otohachi I, in the role of the retainer Numataro, stands beneath the snow-laden branches of a willow, wearing a travelling cloak and broad straw hat, and dangling a pair of frogfish (anko) on a piece of string. Clumps of narcissus bloom at the foot of the tree. Knowing that his master, Yasukata, desperately needs three hundred ryo (large gold coins), Numataro is willing to risk eternal damnation to obtain the money. For legend had it that anyone striking the bell of Mukenzan Kannon Temple at Sayo no Nakayama in Totomi Province would receive untold riches in this life but would be cast to the nethermost hell in the next. By a peculiar theatrical convention it is the two frogfish rather than the Mukenzan Temple bell which Numataro strikes with a knife. He is shown doing so in the top left-hand corner of an illustration from one of the actor critiques (yakusha hyobanki) relating to the performance (see 'The Actor's Image' catalogue, fig. 1.1, p.51). Later Numataro shakes from a tree a hoard of money that had been cached there by thieving monkeys.Buncho's few prints of Otohachi I in various roles always show him with the same odd facial features: small, sunken eyes, turned-down mouth, bulbous nose, mis-matched eyebrows, and tufts of hair at the temples. Doubtless his appearance helped to make him the favorite actor of buffoon roles (doke yaku) until his death in 1769. Here the gaping frogfish seem to accentuate the actor's ill-shaped features in a manner at once comic and poignant: the artists' new interest in depicting an actor's actual likeness (nigao-e) extended to the bad points as well as the good.The Chicago impression of the print is somewhat faded: another specimen in the collection of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum, Waseda University, Tokyo, shows a bottle green cloak and stronger red and purple on the kimono underneath. At present no other prints by Buncho relating to this performance are known.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1928.992
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998
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