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signed Kunichika ga with artist’s Toshidama seal, combined censor and date seal Ne-go, aratame (year of the rat , 5th lunar month, examined), publisher’s seal Hanmoto, Izutsuya of Izutsuya Shokichi, and carver’s seal Katada Hori Cho (Katada Chojiro)
oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 3/4 in., 36 by 24.8 cm
The actor Ichikawa Kuzo III (Ichikawa Danzo III, 1836-1911) is in the role of Nezumi Kozo (lit. ‘Rat Boy’) Jirokichi, the infamous thief from Japanese history and kabuki theater. The historical Nakamura Jirokichi (1797-1831) was a petty criminal with an admittedly impressive resume – over the course of his lifetime, it is said he burgled over 100 samurai estates and stole over 30,000 ryo, no small sum. Mysteriously, at the time of his arrest, Jirokichi had little money to his name. He subsequently gained a Robin Hood-esque reputation, as many assumed he had distributed his missing treasures amongst the poor.