Kunichika: Samurai Hidemitsu and Brave Horse Okage (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Toyohara Kunichika
Title: Takechi Sama-no-suke and his brave horse Okage
Date: ca. 1860s

“Takechi Sama-no-suke and his brave horse Okage.” The Kabuki scene knows as Takechi Sama-no-suke (”Just about to cross Omi Lake”). Takechi Sama-no-suke is the disguised name for the historic samurai  Akechi Hidemitsu, here played by the kabuki actor Sawamura Tosshô. Hidemitsu has just been informed that his clan chief, Akechi-no-Mitsuhide had lost his battle at Yamazaki to Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi. He has decided to leave  Azuchi Castle, which he was to defend and then to head to Sakamoto Castle, which is the residence of Mitsuhide and Hidemitsu. However his soldiers were all scattered and had disappeared, so that he had to rely only on his horse, Okage, though the enemy was nearby. Since the passage on the land was occupied by the enemy, he jumped into the Omi Lake (presently Lake Biwa in Shiga Pref.) and crossed it. As he reached the Sakamoto Castle, he tragically found that the castle had been taken by the enemy. He and his wife and children all committed suicide. In this diptych Hidemitsu is holding a brush and paper, perhaps in order to inform someone of his intentions. His horse is given equal billing in this design, and seems to be looking on in sympathy. This may be from the play “Gosho Ogi Soga Toshidama.”

 For Kabuki plays and Ukiyo-e prints, the Edo Bakufu (authorities) prohibited the use of the real historic names of the Tokugawa Clan or any other clans, therefore, Akechi-no-Hidemitsu, a loyal chief retainer was named Takechi Sama-no-suke or Mitsuharu.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Minor trimming. Unbacked. 
Dimensions: ôban diptych
Signature: Toyohara Kunichika hitsu (with toshidama seal)