Kuniyoshi: Humorous Scenes from Joruri, Including a Talking Gourd

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Two Humorous Giga-e 
Series: Collection of Humorous Scenes from Joruri Dramas
Date: 1855

Two humorous takes on two very famous kabuki scenes. Top, Yuranosuke, Okaru and Kudayu from Kanadehon chushingura-nanadanme scene. The Chushingura is of course the story of the Loyal Retainers, ie the 47 Ronin. Nanadanme is Act VII in the story. Yuranosuke is the hero of the story and represents the historical figure of Kuranosuke, the chief plotter of the revenge. In act VII, Yuranosuke reads a secret letter and Kudayu is hiding under the verandah and secretly reads it as well. The geisha Okaru also secretly reads the letter from her hand-mirror. Here what is happening is a little difficult to interpret. It seems that Okaru has been on a ladder that falls on top of Yuranosuke, his letter spread out beneath him. We see Kudayu popping up from beneath the verandah, glasses on his head. Bottom: Kajiwara Heizo, Yazaemon, Igama Gonta and Osato from Yoshitsune senbonzakura-san no kiri scene.  This play is also one of the most famous in the kabuki repertoire and the plot is derived from the Heike Monogatari. It is from Act III, and this is a humorous take on a complicated scene where Kokingo’s head has been stored in a sushi tub. Here instead of a warrior’s head we see a gourd that seems to be talking to three Imperial officers. One might guess that there is dense wordplay involved that is quite impenetrable to the modern viewer. A Joruri is a type of sung or chanted play that is often humorous.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Some minor stains. 

Dimensions: Two chuban works joined (35.9 x 24 cm)
Publisher: Hayashi-ya Shôgorô
Seal: censor’s seals: aratame & date 11th month of Rabbit year(1855)
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi giga