Kuniyoshi: Rokusuke and Kappa

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Rokusuke and Kappa 毛谷村六助
Series: Honcho kendo ryaku den (Abridged Stories of Our Country’s Swordsmanship) 本朝剣道略傳 -  河童
Date: ca. 1843-46

Keyamura no Rokusuke, stripped to his waist and drying off with a towel, is addressed by a young kappa. A bundle of rushes and a carrying-pole are behind them. Rokusuke was a farmer turned samurai who was known for both his strength and his filial piety, considered the two ideal qualities for a samurai. He was a main character in the kabuki play Hiko-san Gongen chikai no sukedachi (彦山権現誓助劔), set during the time of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s campaign to unify Japan. The kappa seems to be gesturing here to the humble farmer Rokusuke--since kappa are fond of wrestling, perhaps he is challenging the excellent wrestler Rokusuke to a match. Neither the yokai nor Rokusuke seem surprised to see each other.

Condition: Excellent color. Very good impression and condition. Small wormage at bottom right.
Dimensions: ôban (36.3 x 24.4 cm)
Publisher: Kazusa-ya Iwazo
Literature: Robinson S37.13
Seal: Hama Yahei (censor)
Signature: Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga