Life of Honchomaru Tsunagoro saved by divine favor
By Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)
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Medium: woodcut/woodblock/ukiyo-e, woodblock
Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 35.6 by 73.8 cm
Price: $1500 (excl. taxes)
signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, publisher's seal Wakasaya, Shiba Shinmeimae (Wakasaya Yoichi of Jakurindo), censor's seals Fuku and Muramatsu, and Shita-uri (discreet sale) seal, 1851, 9th month
oban tate-e triptych 14 by 29 in., 35.6 by 73.8 cm
In the right panel, the actor Ichikawa Kuzo II (Ichikawa Danzo VI, 1800-1871) is in the role of Kongara Doji, in the center panel, the actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) is in the roles of Fudo of Mount Narita and Hiranoya Tokubei, later Honchomaru Tsunagoro, and in the left panel the actor Bando Shuka I (1813-1855) is in the role of Seitaka Doji, from the play Shinpan ksohi no shiranami (Newly Published: Bandit of the River Crossing), the second part of Genji Moyo Furisode Hinagata (Model for a Robe in Genji Pattern). Fudo of Mount Narita is Fudo Myo-o, 'The Immovable,' a fiery deity who holds a sword to punish the guilty and a rope to catch the wicked and lead them to true knowledge. His acolytes are Kongara, holding a white lotus flower on the right, and Seitaka, a red man with a club on the left.
The rescue of Hiranoya, who is clutching Fudo's rope, is both a physical and a spiritual salvation. Danjuro played both roles by performing haya-gawari (lit. 'lightening costume change'). The Danjuro family worshiped the deity Fudo ever since an early Danjuro prayer to the god for a child was answered. Their yago (house-name) is for that reason 'Naritaya,' and the actors regularly performed misogi (a ritual purification associated with Fudo) at the Shinshoji waterfall.
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