The actor Nakamura Nakazo I as a monk, Raigo Ajari, in the play Nue no Mori Ichiyo no Mato (Forest of the Nue Monster: Target of the Eleventh Month)
Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1770
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Creator Name: Katsukawa, Shunsho
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; 1726-1792 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Katsukawa Shunsho
Title: The actor Nakamura Nakazo I as a monk, Raigo Ajari, in the play Nue no Mori Ichiyo no Mato (Forest of the Nue Monster: Target of the Eleventh Month)
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1770
Creation End Date: 1770
Creation Date: Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1770
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Hosoban; 31.0 x 14.6 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Shunsho gaARTIST'S SEAL: Hayashi in jar-shaped outline
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1932.1012
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Context: Nakazo I is shown in the role of Raigo (1004-1084), a Buddhist monk of the Tendai temple Onjo-ji (also known as Mii-dera) near Lake Biwa. Raigo is sometimes called simply by his ecclesiastical title, Ajari (S: acarya, monk, especially of one of the Esoteric schools such as Tendai). Various chronicles relate that by virtue of Raigo's prayers a son was born to the retired emperor Shirakawa (1053-1129), in return for which Shirakawa offered to grant the priest any wish. When Raigo requested the establishment of an ordination platform at Onjo-ji, however, the retired emperor reneged on his promise, for fear of the armed monks of the rival Tendai temple Enryaku-ji on Mt. Hiei, who enjoyed a monopoly on ordination. Casting a curse on Shirakawa, Raigo shut himself in the Buddha Hall of the temple and began a fast in protest.It is at this point that the Kabuki playwrights began to elaborate on the historical accounts. In the play of 1770, according to Kabuki Nempyo, Raigo fasted for one hundred days. He then trampled a serving table underfoot, and when it burst into flames took this as an omen that his prayers had been answered. This is the scene depicted in Shunsho's print: Raigo is shown with his tonsure grown out into an unkempt mop of hair, wearing tatteredpriest's robes and with a rope wrapped around his waist - perhaps to ease the pangs of hunger in his belly. In one hand he holds a rosary and in the other a ritual bell (kongo rei). At his feet flames engulf the smashed table.Raigo lived a century beforeMinamoto no Yorimasa (1104-1180), the central character in Nue no Mori. Kabuki playwrights, however, characteristically and enthusiastically conflated the most disparate events and stories, in order to thicken their plots or perhaps to provide a showcaserole for a particular actor's talents. Shunsho has responded to a powerful actor in an impassioned role with a gripping design in an austere color scheme: the skin of the emaciated monk is rendered in pale gray, with darker gray tracing the protruding rib cage. Raigo's body leans in the direction of his distant gaze, and his grim, set expression creates a sense of foreboding.An illustration in the program (ehon banzuke) for the production shows Nakazo I in identical costume standing under the same ivy-covered pine tree (see 'The Actor's Image' catalogue, fig. 47.1, p.144). In the color print Shunsho has wisely eliminated the two subsidiary characters shown in the program - Raigo's follower Kamada Gon-no-kami Masayori and a child actor in an unidentified role - so as to concentrate on the dramatic figure of Nakazo I alone.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1932.1012
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998
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