The actor Nakamura Nakazo I in the role of an evil courtier, probably Prince Takahito, illegitimate son of Emperor Takakura, disguised as Aso no Matsuwaka, in part one of the play Iro Moyo Aoyagi Soga (Green Willow Soga of Erotic Design)
Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the thirteenth day of the second month, 1775
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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 in the role of an evil courtier, probably Prince Takahito, illegitimate son of Emperor Takakura, disguised as Aso no Matsuwaka, in part one of the play Iro Moyo Aoyagi Soga (Green Willow Soga of Erotic Design)
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1775
Creation End Date: 1775
Creation Date: Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the thirteenth day of the second month, 1775
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Hosoban; 31.8 x 14.8 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Shunsho ga
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1932.1013
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Context: Nakazo I appears in the costume and makeup of an evil courtier: white court robes, a great long sword, unkempt hair, and blue striped makeup (kuge are), with an aristocrat's black 'stars of rank' (kurai-boshi, used only in Kabuki to denote courtly rank) painted on his forehead. Amid lashing rain (which discreetly does not obscure his person), the courtier strikes a menacing pose, with one arm outflung, the other hand fiercely gripping his sword, and one foot planted on a ceremonial altar platform (goma dan) used in Esoteric Buddhist rites. The goma dan is a lacquered wood platform enclosing a sunken brazier in which slips of aromatic wood inscribed with prayers were burnt in front of icons. On the platform, surrounding the brazier, are various ritual implements, including a bronze thunderbolt (kongosho) and a thunderbolt-handled bronze bell (kongorei or gokorei) as well as bowls of (mulberry?) leaves to be burned.The researches of Suzuki Juzo and Kimura Yaeko have suggested convincingly that this is a scene from part one of the play Iro Moyo Aoyagi Soga, performed at the Nakamura Theater from the second month of 1775. Aso no Matsuwaka, a robber (the role played here by Nakamura Nakazo I), discovers that he was born Prince Takahito, illegitimate son of Emperor Takakura. Following the common Kabuki convention, this discovery immediately implants in him an overweening ambition to usurp the throne, and to that end he begins to practice magic Brahmanic rituals (haramon no ho). Matsui no Gengo (played by Ichikawa Danzo IV), a retainer who tries to dissuade him, falls victim to the magic and is made to commit suicide. At this point Matsuwaka's wife Ubatania (played by Yamashita Kinsaku II) realizes it is up to her to foil his evil ambitions. Enlisting the aid of the faithful retainer Omo (Otani Hiroji III), she first murders Mibu no Kozaru (played by Nakamura Tsutaemon) and then commits suicide, for she has learned that only by the mingled blood of a man and woman born in the same year of the sixty-year zodiacal cycle can Matsuwaka's magic be counteracted. Matsuwaka is tricked into drinking the blood, and his evil powers falter. Suzuki suggests that Shunsho's print shows Matsuwaka's despair at the moment when he realizes that his ambitions have been thwarted. Not entirely beaten, however, Matsuwaka passes on his powers to the evil Kudo Suketsune (also played by Nakazo I), whereupon the plot transforms into the familiar story of the revenge of the Soga brothers.After a dispute with the management brought about the defection from the Nakamura Theater, in the fifth month of 1774, of Ichikawa Danjuro IV and V, Yoshizawa Sakinosuke III, Matsumoto Koshiro IV, Ichikawa Monnosuke II, Iwai Hanshiro IV, and Ichikawa Danzaburo II. Nakazo I remained as the virtual mainstay of the Nakamura troupe. In the spring of 1775 he played no fewer than five major roles, some of which were recorded by Shunsho: Aso no Matsuwaka (this print), Kudo Suketsune, Honda no Jiro, the monk Dainichibo, and a new hit role as a female seller of hare's-foot fern (shinobu uri).
AMICA ID: AIC_.1932.1013
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998
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