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Kakitsubata, koi-no-mai (June) from the series Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

Yoroboshi (February) from the series Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kakitsubata, koi-no-mai (June)

from the series  Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

by Matsuno Sōfū, 1970

Nōga taikan, Semimaru

IHL Cat. #1884

About This Print and Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

In this print the main character, the spirit of the iris flower, kneels and unfolds her fan after completing her dance and observes that the unfolded fan is like the unfurled hear of enlightenment .1

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 commentary sheet on the play 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.)

Interestingly, the artist seals appearing on the prints, each one being different, relate to the play being pictured.  In this print the seal reads "The Eight-Forked Bridge", referencing the setting for the final part of this play where the spirit of the iris flowers sings of the poet Ariwara no Narihira.

1 Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery website http://web-kiosk.scrippscollege.edu/OBJ?sid=171408&rec=9&port=0&art=0&page=9

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.]

Commentary sheet included with print

The Play - Kakitsubata (koi-no-mai) 

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 66-67.

By Zeami
Third Group
All schools


Waki - a travelling priest
Shite - the spirit of the iris flowers

In the early Japanese work called the Ise Monogatari is a story telling how Ariwara no Narihara stopped at Yatsuhashi while on his way to the eastern provinces and, being stuck by the beauty of the irises blooming there, composed an anagrammatic poem [see Commentary sheet above] by beginning each of the five lines with one of the syllables in the name of the flower, kakitsubata.  In the play a wandering priest comes to Yatsuhashi and lodges in the house of a woman living there.  When she appears in a magnificent robe he asks who she is.  She replies that she is the spirit of the irises, immortalized by Narihira's poem, and after telling him the story, dances for him.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1884
Kakitsubata, koi-no-mai, (June) 杜若 恋の舞 

1. koi-no-mai = the dance of love
2. the Noh play Yoroboshi is variously seen referred to in English as "Dance of Love", "The Spirit of the Iris", "The Irises" and "Water Iris" among others.
 Series/Album Twelve Months of Noh Pictures
 十二佳月能雅摺 Jūnikagetsu noh ga suri
 Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963)
 Seal The commentary accompanying the print states "Characters inscribed in the seal (see above) mean: 'The Eight-Forked Bridge'"
 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 -several very light spots of foxing in upper and lower right of print
 Genre nishiki-e; Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 15 3/16 x 10 9/16 in. (38.6 x 26.8 cm)
 H x W Image 14 3/8 x 9 9/16 in. (36.5 x 24.3 cm)
 Collections This Print The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College 2006.1.50
 Reference Literature 
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