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signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu, with artist’s Kiri seal, publisher’s seal Kinseido (Sanoya Tomigoro of Kinseido), and combined censor and date seal U-ju, aratame (year of the hare , 10th lunar month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 1/2 by 9 7/8 in., 36.9 by 25.1 cm
Tabakoya Kihachi, from the kabuki play Meiyo Jinsei Roku, hunches below scaffolding while gesturing towards another man looming above him. In the background two dogs bark menacingly, apparently trapping the figure perched on the crossbeam.
The series Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World (Azuma no hana ukiyo kodan) illustrates episodes of stories as paraphrased in the descriptive cartouches by the writer Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894). Robun was the son of a fishmonger who partnered with the artist Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) to set up shop as a literary subcontractor. He wrote comic fiction and supplied texts for ukiyo-e, and became a frequent contributor to woodblock prints. Published jointly by seven different publishers, the series title includes a pun of the word ‘kodan’ which phonetically means ‘story-telling,’ but the first of the two characters is here substituted by one that means ‘rough draft’ or ‘manuscript,’ thus emphasizing Robun’s abbreviation of the tales. The subjects depicted are from folklore, kabuki theater, and novels, and the names of the storytellers follow the series title in the red oblong cartouche in the shape of a page-turner. Robun’s texts are inscribed on the pages of a folded book.