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Kyōgen Gojūban, Ushi nusubito


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ushi nusubito 牛盗人 (The Cow Thief)

from the series Kyōgen Gojūban

by Tsukioka Gyokusei, 1927

Dontarō from the series Kyōgen Gojuban

IHL Cat. #623

About This Print

One of thirty-four prints designed by Tsukioka Gyokusei (1908-1994) in the series Kyōgen Gojūban (Fifty Kyogen Plays) started by her father Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927).   Tsukioka Kōgyo designed sixteen prints for the series before his death.

For information on the series Kyōgen Gojūban, see the section Final Series of Prints (1927) - Kyōgen gojūban (Fifty Kyōgen Plays) under the artist Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927).

The Play - Ushi nusubito

Source: A Guide to Kyogen, Don Kenny, Hinoki Shoten, 1968, p.285-286.
"The Cow Keeper for the Emperor discovers that one of the Emperor's cows has been stolen.  He puts up a sign declaring whoever will give information as to the identity or the whereabouts of the Thief will be forgiven any crime, or given anything he asks for.

Before long a Child appears, saying that he wishes to report the name and the whereabouts of the thief.  He says the thief is Hy
ōgo Saburō who lives in the next village.

The Cow Keeper sends Tar
ō Kaja and Jirō Kaja to go arrest the culprit.  They soon drag him in, and before long he confesses his crime.  He also reveals to them the fact that the Child is his son.  He curses and disowns his Child for being a traitor.

They ask him why he stole the cow, and he says it was to pay for a memorial service for his father, and goes on to recite a passage from Buddhist scripture which would seem to sanction such an action.  The Cow Keeper says that no matter, the crime is still the same according to law, and
Hyōgo Saburō must be put to death.

At this point the Child speaks up demanding his reward.  They ask him what he wants, and he answers, 'The life of
Hyōgo Saburō spared.'  He goes on to explain that when he saw the sign, he decided that this was the only ways to save his Father's life.  Father and Son burst into tears.  The Father pleads for forgiveness from his son for his harsh words of a few minutes before.  The Cow Keeper and his servants are moved by this display of the Child's love for his Father.  They grant him full pardon, and Father and Son set out for home singing for joy."

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #623
 Title Ushi nusubito 牛盗人 (The Cow Thief)
 Series Kyōgen Gojūban 狂言五十番 (Fifty Kyogen Plays)
 Tsukioka Gyokusei (1908-1994)
 Kōbun 江 文
Red letter seal in an irregular shape: 江彣 [Kōbun]
 Date 1927
 Edition likely first and only
Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya)松木平吉 (大黒屋) and fan-shaped seal reading published by Daikokuya, Tokyo, Ryōgoku 東京両国 大黒屋 発行
[Marks: pub. ref. 029; seal not shown]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - crimp in paper lower left-hand corner
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 10 x 15 in. (25.4 x 38.1 cm)
 Collections This Print Art Institute of Chicago 1943.832.18; University of Pittsburgh (as part of a bound volume of the entire series Kyōgen gojūban) 20101012-kogyo-0061
 Reference Literature