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

Kamo from the album Nō Sugata

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Yoroboshi (February)

from the series  Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

by Matsuno Sōfū, 1970

Nōga taikan, Semimaru

IHL Cat. #1881

About This Print and Twelve Months of Noh Pictures

In this print "the young man Shuntokumaru arrives at Tennoji Temple. Years of living in depravity has left him sick and blinded; he comes to the temple in search of alms and salvation."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 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 Whole View of Green Hills in the Mind's Eye", referencing the boys blindness and the season of early spring during which the play takes place.

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 - Yoroboshi

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 217-218.

By Motomasa
Fourth Group
All schools


Waki - Takayasu no Michitoshi
Kyōgen - his servant
Shite - Shuntoku-maru

Believing some gossip he heard about his son Shuntoku, Michitoshi turned him out of his house.  Deeply regretting his cruelty now, he goes on a pilgrimage to the Tennō-ji temple and there sees his son again - but he has become a beggar and having lost his sight as well, is known as 'the priest with the faltering tread.'  He sings a song about the temple and then, when the other people go and leave the two of them alone, Michitoshi tells his son who he is and, full of happiness at having found him again, takes him by the art to lead him home.

Source: Japanese No PlaysTourist Library Vol. 16,Zemmaro Toki, Japan Travel Bureau, 1954, p. 153.
The highlight of this piece is the blind boy's dance which expresses first merry-making and then spiritual enlightenment.

The mask worn by the blind boy is a special one called yorobōshi.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1881
Yoroboshi (February) 弱法師 

Note: the Noh play Yoroboshi is variously seen referred to in English as "Stumbling Beggar Boy", "Dance of a Blind Man", "Priest with Faltering Step" and "The Blind Weakling" among others.
 Series/Album Twelve Months of Noh Pictures
 十二佳月能雅摺 Jūnikagetsu noh ga suri
 Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963)
 Seal4 The commentary accompanying the print states "Characters inscribed in the seal (see above) mean: The Whole View of Green Hills in the Mind's Eye"
 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 good - light foxing throughout
 Genre nishiki-e; Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 15 1/16 x 10 1/2 in. (38.3 x 26.7 cm)
 H x W Image 14 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (36.2 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College 2010.1.4
 Reference Literature 
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