Kunisada: Esoteric Ox Magic

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: Esoteric Ox Magic 粂平内左衛門
Series: Competition of the art of magic done by Toyokuni (Toyokuni kigô kijutsu arasoi) 豊国揮毫奇術競

Date: 5/1863

The actor Asao Kuzaemon III (?) in the role of Kume no Heinai Nagamori. He has on his person four esoteric implements of power; he holds an esoteric implement in his teeth, holds a headgear with burning candles, has a divining mirror around his neck and grasps a large nail in his left hand. He stands in a cloud of grey smoke that has been emitted by what looks to be a life-sized stone stroking ox. There is beautiful blindprinting in his robes.  There was a kabuki drama called “Sumidagawa Hana no Shozome” which had the role of Kume no Heinai Nagamori, but the connection to this scene is not clear. It perhaps involves the story of Kume no Heinai, a samurai who lived at the beginning of the Edo period. On reaching old age, he decided to become a Zen monk, wishing to hold memorial services to honor the samurai he had slain in battle. This series uses magical images to showcase unsurpassable printing techniques with the likenesses of popular actors and exciting moments in kabuki. With heavy mica in the dark areas and very extensive blindprinting in the robes, this first edition work is fantastically printed.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Untrimmed first edition. Mint.
Dimensions: ôban (38.7 x 26 cm)
Publisher: Hirano-ya
Signature: nanajû kyu sai Toyokuni hitsu (brush of Toyokuni at 79 years old)