Kuniyoshi: The Ghost of Okiku Rising in Flames (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
Title: The Evil Tetsuzan and the Ghost of Okiku
Date: 1850

The actor Danjuro VIII as Asayama Tetsuzan, left, wears a voluminous outer robe decorated with chrysanthemums. He has drawn one sword, and looks with enmity but not fear as the ghost of Okiku flies away in a cloud of ghostly flames at right. From the play Minoriyoshi Kogane no Kikuzuki. The actors are Ichikawa Danjûrô VIII as Asayama Tetsuzan (粂山鉄三, left) and Ichikawa Kodanji IV as the ghost of Okiku (於菊ぼうこん, right). The story of Okiku is one of Japan’s most famous ghost stories. In this telling of the story, she is framed by the evil Tetsuzan for stealing the 10th dish in an important treasure set of dishes. She is then cruelly thrown into a well for not killing Tomonosuke, who is about to become the new lord of Himeji Castle. Her ghost rises from the well and may be heard counting dishes, and wailing at the number nine. From the play Minoriyoshi Kogane no Kikuzuki (実成金菊月), performed at the Nakamura-za in the 9th lunar month of 1850. This was a revision of the ghost play Banshu Sarayashiki. Here we see the actor playing Okiku floating within a cloud of ghostly flames, her arms outstretched. She turns to look at Tesuzan with reproach. The flames have been printed with an orange-lead pigment, which has oxidized to resemble the character of real flames. Very scarce. This dealer could not find another example in any online museum or private collections.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Center folds.
Dimensions: ôban diptych (37.2 x 25.3 cm)
Publisher: Ota-ya Takichi
Literature: See Kuniyoshi Project online
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga with his paulownia seal