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Shōjō (December) from the series Twelve Months of Noh Pictures


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Shōjō (December)

from the series  Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

by Matsuno Sōfū, 1970

Nōga taikan, Semimaru

IHL Cat. #1931

About This Print and Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

In this print Shōjō, the ocean dweller, dances drunkenly for his friend Kōfū the liquor seller.

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 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, seem to relate to the play being pictured, such as in the red seal in this print whose characters, according to the commentary sheet accompanying the print, mean "The Well That Contains Water in Endless Supply", referencing the water setting for this story and the "well of wine which never runs dry" that is given to Kōfū by Shōjō.

1 Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery website http://web-kiosk.scrippscollege.edu/OBJ?sid=171248&rec=17&port=0&art=0&page=17

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 -  Shōjō

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 163-164.

Waki - Kō-fū, a wine dealer
Shite - an elf-like creature

A man named Kō-fū, living in ancient China, explains that by following a dream which he had in reward for his filial piety and which told him to sell wine in the market, he has become a prosperous man.  At the market, there is one particular person who always comes to him to buy wine, and since he told the dealer that he is an elf living in the sea, the man has come down to the estuary to wait for him to appear.  When he does so, red-faced from his drinking, the man serves him with wine and watches him dance.  The elf, in return, gives him a well of wine which never runs dry.

This drama is filled with a celebratory atmosphere. It is often performed with Kogaki or special staging features, whose performances are called “Midare” or “Shōjō-midare”. When this piece is performed in these special styles, the shite or protagonist performs a unique dance, “midare” instead of chū-no-mai. In this case, this drama is called “Midare” or “Shōjō-midare”, not “Shōjō”, in the program. “Midare” and “Shōjō-midare” are categorized as one of the hiraki-mono, the group of Noh dramas which demand highly advanced technique and psychological maturity of the performers. It therefore requires special training to perform. Other than this unique dance, the other special staging features include funny ones, such as showing wine jars and bringing many Shōjō on the stage.  

The story is simple, therefore the focal point is not in the storyline but rather in the expression of the celebrating, auspicious atmosphere. Please enjoy the dance of joy of Shōjō, a winsome monster with a red face.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1931
Shōjō 猩々

 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 Will That Contains Water in Endless Supply'"
 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 
 昭和四十五年九月一日 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 ukiyo-e
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 15 7/8 x 10 7/8 in. (39.7 x 27.6 cm)
 H x W Image 14 3/16 x 9 9/16 in. (36 x 24.31 cm)
 Collections This Print The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College 2010.1.5
 Reference Literature 
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