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Kyōsai hyakuzu, Figures from Ōtsue Folk Paintings Playing Games (Ōtsue no tawamure)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Figures from Ōtsue Folk Paintings Playing Games

(Ōtsue no tawamure)

from the series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

by Kawanabe Kyōsai, c. 1863-1866

IHL Cat. #452

About this Print and the Series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

The Print
This print titled Ōtsue no tawamure depicts two sumo wrestlers with various observers, including a very red demon.  The word ōtsue is a reference to small woodblock prints and sketches of popular religious subjects that were popular into the 1880s and the word tamamure can be translated as "joke" or "fun".

Variant Printings

The popularity of these small prints led to numerous printings over the years.  Three color variant states of the print are shown below.




The Series
Source: Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Oikawa Shigeru, Clark Timothy and Forrer Matthi, Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 206.
This print was issued as part of the series the Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai) which consists of more than 200 pictorializations of proverbs and depictions of famous subjects unrelated to proverbs. The prints were published continuously from 1863 to 1866* by the publisher Wakasaya and the works were later reprinted in album form by the publisher Ōkura Magobei (Ōkuraya) in 1881 and 1886.  The prints in this collection are likely from one of Ōkura Magobei's reprint editions, as they show evidence of having been removed from an album. 

One hundred of the proverbs depicted in Kyōsai hyakuzu were translated into French in 1885 under the title Cent Proverbes Japonais by Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuke.

This print series was very popular, enhancing Kyōsai's reputation and making a large profit for the publishers.

*1863-1866 are the most common publication dates provided for these prints, though the literature cites dates as early as 1862 for the first publication date and reprints of this series are still being made.  The prints were first issued by publisher Wakasaya Yoichi (aka Jakurindō Yoichi) as single-sheet prints, sold in ten print packages in a decorative envelope.  Ōkura Magobei (aka Yorozuya Magobei) re-published the prints in bound book/album form in the 1880s.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Figures from Ōtsue Folk Paintings Playing Games 
 大津絵の戯 Ōtsue no tawamure 
 Artist  Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
 Series Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyosai)
ōju Seisei Kyōsai 応需 惺々狂斎 

 Seal of the Artist None
 Publication Date likely c. 1880s (originally c. 1863-1866)
Ōkura Magobei 
seal reading 大倉版 Ōkurahan
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - original album backing
 Genre ukiyo-e; giga (comic print)
 Format koban [Vertical yotsugiri (quarter ôban)]
 H x W Paper
 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (18.4 x 12.1 cm)
 H x W Image 
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.45800.40 (variant printing); University of Vienna Ukiyoe Caricatures 11032-73
 Reference Literature
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