Kuniyoshi 国芳: Oiwa お岩 Dripping Blood and Takuetsu (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Station Oiwaka; Oiwa お岩 Dripping Blood and Takuetsu
Series: Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô Road  木曾街道六十九次之内
Date: 1852

The moment of truth for poor Oiwa, who has just realized that she is terribly disfigured and here squeezes the blood from the clumps of hair and scalp that she has just combed out from her own head. From Japan’s most famous ghost story, Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan (東海道四谷怪談), this is the famous “haircombing" (kamisuki) scene. Kuniyoshi has here made Oiwa’s skin and clothes already ghost-colored in pallid grey/blue, and soon she will take her own life and become an actual ghost that torments her evil husband, who has poisoned her in the hopes of marrying the daughter of the wealthy neighbor Kihei. At left we see the blind masseur Takuetsu, who has told Oiwa to look into a mirror as he can feel the swelling of her face. He here is reacting to her dismay, as she squeezed blood onto a white screen that has been knocked over. Soon after this scene she takes her own life and becomes a ghost that torments her husband until he too takes his own life. Oiwa was born in the Year of the Rat, so one of the hauntings is a plague of rats; we also see a rat in the outline of the series cartouche as well as above the title cartouche at right. The place name of “Oiwake” (”Crossroads”) has given Kunyoshi the perfect cover to show a terrific ghost scene.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Untrimmed and unbacked. Two minor binding holes at right and tiny areas of minute wormage.
Dimensions: ôban (37.5 x 25.5 cm)
Publisher: Takedaya Takezo
Literature: See Sarah Thompson’s “The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô”, figure 21, page 58. Robinson S74. See MFA
Seal: kiri
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga