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Actor Onoe Tamizō Playing the Role of Nakanori [Kaminari] at the Age of 80 from the magazine Bijutsu Sekai Vol. 16


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Actor Onoe Tamizō Playing the Role of

Nakanori [Kaminari] at the Age of 80

from the magazine Bijutsu Sekai, Vol. 16

 by Kawanabe Kyōsai, 1892

IHL Cat. #1932

About This Print

Adoring fans watch Onoe Tamizō II 尾上多見蔵 二代目 (1800-1886) at the age of 80, playing the thunder god, raijin, [Nakanori Kaminari], in the play Hatsuharu no kotobuki iwau kokonobake, in this double-bookplate by Kyōsai appearing in the 16th volume of the arts magazine Bijutsu Sekai (World of Art), published in February 1892, three years after Kyōsai's death in 1889. Note the candles at the end of bamboo rods that the kurogo (black-clad stage assistants) would have held to illuminate the actor at critical times in the play.

It is one of four prints designed by Kyōsai appearing in volume 16, all of which feature older characters - the kabuki actor Onoe Tamizō II at the age of 80; the warrior Ōkubo Hikozaemon 大久保 彦左衛門 (1560-1639) at the age of 82; the Confucian scholar Kō Gentai 高玄岱 (1649-1722) at the age of 78; and a prostitute at the age of 89.1

click on image to enlarge
left to right: Ōkubo Hikozaemon at the age of 82 defacing a screen painting showing the war record of Lord Tōshōkō (leyasu); Kō Gentai at the age of 78 painting a large sign at Asakusa Kannon Temple;
a prostitute at the age of 89.

1 note that two of the characters portrayed died before the age their portrayed at in the prints, with Ōkubo dying at the age of 79 [ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Ckubo_Tadataka] and Kō Gentai dying at age 73 [ref. https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%AB%98%E7%8E%84%E5%B2%B1]

The Play Hatsuharu no kotobuki iwau kokonobake

Source: website of Osaka Prints https://www.osakaprints.com/content/artists/info_pp/shuncho_gajuken_info/shuncho_gajuken_01.htm

"Hatsuharu no kotobuki iwau kokonobake (Nine changes for long-life in early spring: 初春寿九化) brought together a set of nine pieces for a single actor to showcase his skills in acting, recitation, and dance. It is an example of so-called hatsuharu kyôgen ("early spring plays" or "New Year's plays": 初春狂言).

"Kaminari (かみなり), also Raiden (雷電) or Raijin (雷神), the thunder god, was typically depicted with a red body, a demon's face, and clawed feet. Among his possessions were thunder-making drums, which in many depictions of this god he seems always to be misplacing and attempting to relocate. A drum wheel was worn by the actor, who attached it to a harness around the waist. The wheel would arc above his head (forming a sort of nimbus), and the actor would play it with drumsticks held in both hands."

cover of Bijutsu Sekai, Volume 16 巻十六
Comments on Kyōsai from Volume 16
click on image to enlarge

The Magazine Bijutsu Sekai

Source: Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture, Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press, 2000

Twenty-five issues of Bijutsu Sekai 美術世界 (World of Art) were published from December 22, 1890 until the final issue on January 2, 1894.  The magazine presented fifteen or more works of well-known contemporary and past master artists to the public in woodblock form in each issue.  The woodblocks were either reproductions of paintings in reduced-size or original woodblocks. Published by Shun'yōdō  春陽堂, a Tokyo publishing firm best known for publishing illustrated novels, each issued was edited by the nihonga artist and designer of woodblock prints, Watanabe Seitei 渡辺省亭1 (1851-1918), who specialized in kachoga (bird and flower paintings).

Artists' works appearing in the magazine included those of Seitei himself, Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), Kōno Bairei (1844-1895)Kobayashi Eitaku (1843-1890), Imao Keinen (1845-1923), Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795), Yosa Buson (1716-1784) and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).  The final issue, volume 25, consisted of works only by Seitei.

Woodblock printing was done by Yoshida Ichimatsu (1866-1924) and the woodblocks were carved by Gotō Tokujirō.

For more details on the magazine see the article on this site titled Bijutsu Sekai (World of Art).

1 also seen written in Japanese as 省亭

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Actor Onoe Tamizō Playing the Role of Nakanori [Kaminari] at the Age of 80 from the magazine Bijutsu Sekai Vol. 16
俳優尾上多見蔵頽齢八十にして中乗を演ずる図 美術世界 巻十六
note: print title as written in the table of contents of volume 16

 Artist Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)

 Seal triangular shōjo seal (see above)
 Publication Date February 29, 1892
 Publisher Shun'yōdō 春陽堂; proprietor Wada Tokutarō 和田篤太郎
 Gotō Tokujirō 五島徳次郎
 Printer Yoshida Ichimatsu 吉田市松 (1866-1924)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - toning
 Genre ukiyo-e; 美術雑誌 art magazine
 H x W Paper 
 9 13/16 x 6 3/8 in. (24.9 x 16.2 cm) [each sheet]
 H x W Image 7 5/8 x 5 3/16 in. (19.4 x 13.2 cm) [each sheet)
 Collections This Print Harvard Library https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:52409570$1i (all twenty-five volumes shown)
 Reference Literature

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