Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)

Sawamura Shozan I (澤村曙山) as an otokodate as Karigane Bunshichi (雁金文七) from series of 5 actors with umbrellas

Print


1864
9.9 in x 14.75 in (Overall dimensions)

Signed: konome ni makasete
hachijūhachisai Toyokuni ga

任好八十八歳豊国画
Publisher: Maruya Kyūshirō
(Marks 298 - seal 01-064)
Carver: Hori Chō
Combined censor and seal: aratame 1864/10?

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - ca. 1720 Kiyonobu I print of Karigane
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1768 Bunchō print of Karigane
Lyon Collection - print of An no Heibei from this series
Lyon Collection - print of Kaminari Shōkurō from this series

Each of the characters portrayed from this gang have an identifiable crest on their robes. Karigane Bunshichi's is an grouping of three geese (kari - 雁) facing inward with the tips of their wings touching to form the crest. We know that this motif was used as early as 1768. This particular-wing-touching mon appears in a print of Karigane by Bunchō and also one by Shunshō from that year. However, there is a Kiyonobu I print from ca. 1720 where these stylized geese are flying freely, but in a pattern. (See the links above.)

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Kawatake Mokuami wrote the play Shiranami Gonin Otoko in 1862. In the second act all five otokodate appear carrying umbrellas. In an article in the Japan Times from April 14, 2004 Rei Sasaguchi wrote:

"Act II closes with a glorious “presentation” of the five gallantly dressed men, who stand under blossoming trees on the bank of the Inase River, holding umbrellas on which is written “shiranami.” Each man delivers a brief self-introduction, before starting to fight a troop of policemen."

Elsewhere Sasaguchi wrote: "Shira-nami, meaning white waves, is the Japanese reading of two Chinese characters bai-bo. After the Chronicle of the Latter Han Dynasty (25-220) gave the label “baibo” to a group of bandits living in the Baibo Gorge, Shanxi Province, the term came to be used for men who made their living by theft or extortion. In this sense it was transferred to Japan."

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There is a question about the identity of this actor. According to Kabuki21 Ichikawa Sumimatsu didn't take the name Sawamura Shozan I until 11/1872, while this print dates from 1864, the year before Kunisada/Toyokuni III died. However, there is reason to believe that Shozan may have been his poetry name.

This conundrum appears to be true of another print in this series in the Lyon Collection, the one of Kawarazaki Sanshō (#300).
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Maruya Kyūshirō (丸屋久四郎) (publisher)
Sawamura Shozan I (初代澤村曙山: ? to 10/1879) (actor)
Katada Chōjirō (片田長次郎) (carver)
Otokodate - chivalrous men (男伊達) (genre)