Kunisada: The Nine-Dragon Tattoo-Bearing Ichikawa Ichizo III as Nozarashi Gosuke 九紋竜支進に比すのざらし語助

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) (1786-1865)
Title: Actor Kataoka Nizaemon VIII as Yume no Ichirobei, Compared to the Chinese Water Margin hero Zhang Shun (Chôjun ni hisu)  張順に比す夢の市郎兵衛

Series: Tosei Suikoden 當世好男子傳 (A Modern Suikoden)

Date: 1858

The actor Ichikawa Ichizô III as Nozarashi Gosuke, Comparable to Shi Jin, the Nine-Dragoned (Kyûmonryû Shishin ni hisu).

Gosuke turns to our left, casually shrugging off the sleeve of his kimono to reveal the extensive and namesake nine-dragon tattoos that cover his arms and torso. His kimono features a skull and bones with pampas grass, the bones and skull even featuring a blindprinted pattern. His tie-dye patterned towel hangs over his shoulders. In this series famous actors were compared to characters in the Suikoden, the Chinese tale of marsh-dwelling antiheroes. Shi Jin first appears in Chapter 2 of the Chinese version of the Suikoden; he was skilled in martial arts and bested other outlaw-robbers; these gang members then became his allies as they joined forces to fight oppression and injustice. Although works in this series are individual sheets, three together can also be put together to form a triptych. There is also a secondary theme of setsugekka, Pine, Plum and Bamboo. This is one of three with the Pine theme. It is lauded for the quality of the printing.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Smudge on face.
Dimensions: Oban (36.7 x 25.3 cm)
Publisher: Hayashiya Shogoro (Rinsho)
Seal: carver: hori Ota Tashichi
Signature: Konomi ni makase Toyokuni ga

Reference: See MFA Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.