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Sugawara no Michizane and the Secrets of Calligraphy: Ichimura Uzaemon XII as Sakuramaru

Accession Number
2011/2.199.1

Title
Sugawara no Michizane and the Secrets of Calligraphy: Ichimura Uzaemon XII as Sakuramaru

Artist(s)
Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1850

Medium & Support
woodblock print on paper

Dimensions
14 3/4 in x 10 1/4 in (37.47 cm x 26.04 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Sharlynn and Andrew Circo, in memory of Sotokichi Katsuizumi

Subject matter
The play Sugawara no Michizane and the Secrets of Calligraphy first premiered in 1746 as a puppet play. It was adapted the next month for kabuki and remains one of the most famous and frequently performed in the kabuki repertoire. The narrative is based on the life of the famous scholar Sugawara no Michizane (845-903) who was exiled to Kyushu after being accused of treason. The scene depicted in this print, “Kurumabiki” or “Struggle for the Carriage”, shows the triplets Matsuomaru, Sakuramaru, and Umeomaru, and the villain of the play, Shihei. The scene’s tension of divided loyalties between the brothers and the conflicts between their emotions and their obligations is a major theme of this play. It is also representative of many plays written at the time. The use of triplets was inspired by the birth of triplets in Osaka which had caused a sensation, and each of the three is named for a tree. In this print, Sakuramaru (sakura = chery) is identifiable by the cherry blossoms on his robe.

Actor Ichimura Uzaemon XII was also known as Ichimura Takenojō V.  He was born in 1812 and active from 1818 until his death in 1851.

Physical Description
In this print, a man looks to his left, hunched over and grasping a sword in his left hand. His right hand is raised above his head. He wears a red robe with large pink flowers on it. A purple overcoat, trimmed in black and patterened with white squares hangs from his waist, partially removed. A second sword is visible under his arm. At the right edge of the print is a yellow mat trimmed in light blue and black.

This is the left panel of a tryptich (with 2011/2.199.2 and 2011/2.199.3).

Inscriptions: Kuruma biki no dan, Sakuramaru (Text); Kuniyoshi ga (Artist's signature); San, Ibasen han (Publisher's seal); Mera, Murata (Censors' seal)
 

Primary Object Classification
Print

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
actors (performing artists)
cherry (plant)
figures (representations)
swords
theater (discipline)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved