The Ghost of Okiku of the 'Dish Mansion'
By Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
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Medium: woodblock, woodcut/woodblock/ukiyo-e
Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 36.9 by 25.1 cm
Price: $2700 (excl. taxes)
signed Yoshitoshi with seal Yoshitoshi, block carver Chokuzan, publisher's information of Sasaki Toyokichi on the left margin with date August 1890 (earliest edition with three colors in the title cartouche)
oban tate-e 14 1/2 by 9 7/8 in., 36.9 by 25.1 cm
The ghost of the maid Okiku weeps while hovering over a well beside a weeping willow tree. There are two versions of her legend that form the basis of the play, Bancho Sarayashiki (lit. 'plate mansion'). In both, she is a maid in the household of a high-ranking samurai who is unfairly accused of breaking (or losing) a precious Dutch blue and white porcelain dish from a set of ten. In one version it is the lady of the house who breaks the dish but accuses Okiku of the deed and throws her in a well as punishment. In another version Okiku has rejected the advances of one of the lord of the house (in some versions he is a daimyo, in others, he is a hatamoto- or 'bannerman' of the shogun), who tries to force her into submission by hiding one of the plates. Instead of giving-in, Okiko throws herself into the well in despair. In either case, she haunts the well, counting over and over again up until nine, and then wails at the missing tenth dish.