Kunichika: Ghost of Okiku and Tessan (Tetsuzan) With Umbrella

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Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Title: Ghost of Okiku and Tessan (Tetsuzan) With Umbrella
Date: 1863

Ichimura Uzaemon as the Ghost of Okiku descends from above right, clutching her hair and surrounded by spirit flame (shinka). She glares with reproach at Aoyama Tessan (Asayama Tetsuzan), played by Ichikawa Kodanji, who holds an amulet packet in his teeth as he tries to ward off the onryo (vengeful spirit). He wears a robe that is decorated with what looks like tiny white wigs, which are even embellished with blindprinting. He firmly grips his umbrella, as the ghostly wind has turned it inside out at this pivotal moment of drama. The Edo period audience would have been very familiar with this ghost story. In it, the samurai Tessan tries to pressure the maid Okiku into a physical relationship, and when she refuses, he tries to blackmail her by accusing her of stealing the tenth plate in a priceless set. Instead of giving in, Okiku throws herself down the well, and at night she can be heard counting out the number of plates, reaching the number nine and then emitting a terrifying wail, driving Tessan to madness. This is from a kabuki play, probably “The Dish Manor at Bancho” and is based on old Japanese folklore. 

Condition: Excellent impression and color; very good condition.
Dimensions: ôban Diptych (each sheet approx. 35.6 x 25.5 cm)
Signature: Ichiosai Kunichika ga