Katsukawa Shunei: Sumo Wrestlers Raiden and O-omisaki 雷電 大岬

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Artist: Katsukawa Shun'ei (ca. 1782-1819)
Title: Sumo Wrestlers Raiden and O-omisaki 雷電 大岬
Date: ca. 1790s

The sumo wrestlers Raiden of West side and O-omisaki of East side on a dohyo-o sumo ring. Raiden tries to turn the upper part of his opponent’s body as they wrestle. They wear binzuke hair styles and mawashi decorated loincloths. At the back a striped decorative curtain hangs down from the roof over the ring.  

Raiden (meaning thunderbolt) Taneemon (1767-1825) (who faces us) was 197 cm/6 ft 5 inches tall and weighed 169 kg/373 lbs. In March 1795 he was promoted to the rank of O-ozeki of the West after Tanikaze’s death and kept this rank for 17 years. Between November 1793 and April of 1800 he finished with the best record in every tournament that he entered. With this result, he finished ahead of Tanikaze and Onogawa. Although the highest rank, Yokozuna, came to exist in 1791 when Shogun Tokugawa Ienari attended the tournament between Tanikaze II Kajinosuke and Onogawa Kisaburoo, it took 38 years to come to be permitted, despite sumo wrestlers like Raiden who were worthy of the rank. Therefore O-ozeki was the highest rank that was bestowed at that time. 

O-omisaki Otomon (-1814) in front in the picture became the O-ozeki of the East in 1801.

Although Katsukawa School artists are perhaps best known for their actor prints, sumo designs such as this one demonstrate their strength in this genre.

Dimensions: 34.5 x 23.1 cm

Publisher: Yamaguchi Tobei
Signature: Shunei ga