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Semimaru from the album Nō Sugata


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Semimaru 蝉丸

from the album Nō Sugata

by Matsuno Sōfū, 1931-1934

Nōga taikan, Semimaru

IHL Cat. #1598

About This Print and Nō Sugata

Source: based on documentation kindly provided by Claus-Peter Schultz.
From volume five of a twenty volume album titled Nō Sugata consisting of text, photographs, illustrations and color woodblock prints published by Unsōdō Publishing over the period 1931-1934.  The woodblock prints were created by Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963), the photographs by Genzō Kitazumi (1898-1982), the album's text was written by Kanze Sakon (1895-1939), the 24th head (sōke) of the Kanze School and Nō actor, and the preface was written by Sasakawa Rinfu (active 1920s-1930s).

For another depiction of this play by the artist see Nōga taikan, Semimaru.  For a depiction of this play by the artist's teacher see the print Nōgaku hyakuban, Semimaru by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927).  For another treatment of this story see Semimaru by Suga Tatehiko (1878-1963).

The Play - Semimaru 蝉丸 by Zeami

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p.154-155.

Fourth group

All schools

Tsure - Prince Semimaru
Waki - a Court Official
Wak-tsure - two bearers
Kyōgen - Hakuga no Sanmmi
Shite - Princess Sakagami

On the order of the Emperor Daigo, a Court official takes Prince Semimaru, who has been blind since he was a child, to Ōsaka-yama and leaves him there with only his lute to comfort him.  The Prince accepts his lot with resignation, feeling that his blindness is the result of some failure of his in a previous existence, and that the present apparent cruelty of his father is only due to a desire to help him gain a happier fate in a future life.  Meanwhile, his sister Princess Sakagami has gone out of her mind and is now a wild-haired figure, wandering aimlessly from place to place.  She comes one day to Ōsaka-yama and, attracted by the sound of Semimaru's lute, finds her brother again.  For a while they forget their loneliness as they talk together and comfort each other, but then the Princess leaves him and continues her sad wanderings.

Noh performance of Semimaru by Kanze Tetsunojo February 1968 
Copyright 1998-2006, Global Performing Arts Consortium

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1598
 Title Semimaru 蝉丸
 Series Nō Sugata 能寿賀多
 Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963)
 Seal unread seal beneath signature (see above)
 Date 1931-1934
 Edition first and only
 Publisher Unsōdō Publishing
 Carver unknown
 Printer unknown
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - foxing, particularly along top margin and light toning
 Genre nishiki-e; Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 11 7/8 x 9 11/16 in. (30.2 x 24.6 cm)
 H x W Image 11 5/8 x 9 1/2 in. ( 29.5 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Reference Literature