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Sōshi Arai Komachi, saishiki (May) from the series Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

Dōjōji, akagashira (April) from the series Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Sōshi Arai Komachi, saishiki (May)

from the series Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

by Matsuno Hideyo, 1970

Nōga taikan, Semimaru

IHL Cat. #1887

About This Print and Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

This print depicts the poetess Ono no Komachi reading her poem at a poetry contest for the emperor. The red seal in this print whose characters, according to the commentary sheet accompanying the print, mean "The Waterside Grass", is a reference to the poem written by the poetess Ono no Komachi that she was maliciously accused of plagiarizing.

Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

From a series of twelve prints depicting twelve Noh plays, one play for each month, published by Unsōdō Publishing in 1970. Six of the prints (for the months of January, February, June, September, November and December) were created by Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963) and the other six (for the months of March, April, May, July, August and October) were created by his son Matsuno Hideyo (1936-2002) As Sōfū died in 1963, his prints must have been created from existing designs.

As originally issued, the prints were sold as a set with each print placed inside its own mat, which was overlayed with a commentary sheet on the play, written by Matsuno Hideyo, in Japanese and English. The matted print and commentary were then placed inside an envelope (shown below, left) and all twelve envelopes were then placed into a cloth folio (shown below, right). Also included was a one page introduction (reproduced below), written by the kyōgen star, mask carver and author Nomura Manzō 野村万蔵 (1898-1978), who was named a Living National Treasure in 1967.

The red seals beneath the artist's signature appearing on the prints, each one being different, are translated into English on the print's commentary sheet and seem to relate to the play being pictured.


Right Column:
昭和四十五年九月日 [ Printing date: September 1, 1970]
昭和四十五年九月十日 [Publishing date: September 10, 1970]
十二佳月能雅摺  十二枚 [Twelve Months of Noh Pictures. Complete set of 12 prints]
Center Column:
不許複製 [All rights reserved]
作者 野奏風 秀世 [authors Matsuno Sōfū (and) Hideyo]
発行者 本田太郎 [publisher Honda Gitarō (reading of name uncertain]
彫師 長島道男 [carver Nagashima Mishio]
摺師 新味三郎 [printer Shinmi Saburō]
Left Column:
発行所 株式会社 芸艸堂 [Publishing House Unsōdō Corporation]
[address, etc.]

Introduction by Nomura Manzō 野村万蔵 (1898-1978)
click on image to enlarge

Commentary sheet included with print

The Play - Sōshi Arai Komachi

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 101-102.

"Komachi And The Forged Entry"
By Kan-ami

Third Group
All schools

Act 1
Waki - the poet Ōtomo no Kuronushi
Kyōgen - his servant
Shite - the poetess Ono no Komachi

Act 2
Ko-kata - the Emperor
Nochi-shite - Ono no Komachi
Nochi-tsure - Ki no Tsurayuki
Nochi-tsure - two poets, Mibu no Tadamine and Kōchi no Mitsune
Nochi-tsure - two ladies-in-waiting
Waki - Ōtomo no Kuronushi
Waki - the poet Ōtomo no Kuronushi

At a poetry competition in the presence of the Emperor, Ōtomo no Kuronushi's opponent is to be the poetess Ono no Komachi.  Fearing that he will be defeated, Kuronushi plans to avoid this and to discomfit his rival at the same time.  He and his servant manage to overhear the poem Komachi has written for the competition, and this he writes into a leaf from a copy of the Manyōshū anthology.  When the poetess later recites this in the contest, he challenges it on that grounds that it is an old poem and produces the copy of the Manyōshū as proof.  Komachi is overcome with humiliation at this, but with the help of Ki no Tsurayuki she obtains the permission of the Emperor to test the leaf in question by rinsing it with water.  When she does so, the freshly written poem is washed away.  Having had his trickery thus exposed, Kuronushi feels that the only course left for him is suicide, but the persuasion and forgiveness of Komachi and an order from the Emperor bring him back.  To dispel any lingering awkwardness, Komachi entertains the company by performing a dance in honour of the Emperor and his reign.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1887
Sōshi Arai Komachi, saishik (May) 草子洗小町 彩色 

Note: the Noh play Sōshi Arai Komachi is seen referred to in English as "Dance of Light and Shade", "Komachi and the Forged Entry" and Komachi Washing the Poem Book" among others.
 Series/Album Twelve Months of Noh Pictures
 十二佳月能雅摺 Jūnikagetsu noh ga suri
 Matsuno Hideyo (1936-2002)
 Seal The commentary accompanying the print states "Characters inscribed in the seal (see above) mean: 'The Waterside Grass'". 
 Date Publishing date: September 10, 1970 
 昭和四十五年九月十日 as printed on colophon
 Printing date: September 1, 1970 
 昭和四十五年九月日 as printed on colophon
 Edition first and only
Unsōdō Publishing 芸艸堂 版
hori Nagashima 彫 長島
suri Shinmi 摺 新味
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre nishiki-e; Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 15 x 10 7/16 in. (38.1 x 26.5 cm)
 H x W Image 14 1/4 x 9 7/16 in. (36.2 x 24 cm)
 Collections This Print The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College 2006.1.46
 Reference Literature 
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