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Relief Prints

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Kabuki Actor Yamashita Kinsaku in the Role of Ôiso no Tora
The Kabuki Actor Yamashita Kinsaku I in the Role of Ôiso no Tora

after 1739
Edo Period (1600-1868)
11 5/8 x 6 1/4 in. (29.6 x 15.8 cm)

Okumura Toshinobu
Japanese (ca. 1717 - 1742) Designer

Full Title:The Kabuki Actor Yamashita Kinsaku I in the Role of Ôiso no Tora
Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Color woodcut
Credit Line: Transfer from the Art Department of the University of Rochester
Accession Number: 1997.70
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view
Publisher: Soshuya

The kabuki actor Yamashita Kinsaku I, whose career flourished between 1711 and 1742, is reported to have been the first onnagata, or male performer of female roles. Because all adult males were required by law to wear their hair in a specific hairstyle, chonmage, young men who played female and youthful male roles, whether on stage or in other entertainment venues, satisfied the letter of the law by wearing a cloth cap over their forehead to suggest the shaved head of the adult male. Kinsaku's actor's crest is shown on his sleeve; the crest on his fan is a design called "melon in a hut" and was used to indicate a Soga cycle play. The inscription on the lantern is a common device that indicates success.

This print combines Toshinobu's skills as an artist of both actors and beauties. The actor's elegant pose contrasts beautifully with the elaborate geometric patterns in the background; the deep dark-black pattern printed over the deep purple of the robe is visible only in raking light.

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