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Archive: Ashiyuki (芦幸)

(1R) Arashi Koroku IV (嵐小六) as Iwakawa nyôbô [wife] Otowa (岩川女房おとわ); (2R) Arashi Kitsusaburô II (嵐橘三郎) as Iwakawa Jirôkichi (岩川治郎吉) in Sekitori senryô nobori (Rise of the 1,000 ryô wrestler: 関取千両幟), Kita Hori-e, Osaka (北堀江)
Ashiyuki ga (芦ゆき画)
Artist seal: Ashiyuki (芦ゆき)
Honsei (Honya Seishichi: 本や清七) plus family name seal Oki (置); co-published by Kichi (吉)
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
26.8 x 37.6 cm
Excellent, with embossing on fan
Excellent overall, unbacked; vertical crease in middle (not a centerfold), a few repaired binding holes along lower edge.
Price (USD/¥):

Sekitori senryô nobori (Rise of the 1,000 ryô wrestler: 関取千両幟) was written in nine acts by Chikamatsu Hanji (1725-83) and others for the ningyô jôruri (puppet theater: 人形淨瑠璃), premiering in 8/1767 at the Takemoto no Shibai, Osaka. The first kabuki performance in Osaka may have been in 8/1775 at the Kado no Shibai. Two patrons of rival wrestlers attempt to raise money to ransom a beautiful courtesan, Nishikigi of the Osakaya, so they wager on a match between their wrestlers. Tetsugadake Dazaemon, fearing he will lose, asks Iwagawa Jirôkichi to throw the match in exchange for his help in raising the money for Iwagawa's patron. As this would guarantee the rescue of Nishikigi, Iwagawa agrees. His wife Otowa learns of the plot, however, and cannot accept that her husband would ruin his reputation for his patron. She therefore raises the money in secret by the only means available — selling herself to a brothel. As the wrestling match is about to begin, Iwagawa is told that an anonymous source has provided the money. He is therefore free to compete unfettered, defeat his opponent, and capture his ranking. After his victory, he is shocked to learn that the donor was his wife Otowa.

For information about the artist, see Ashiyuki Biography.


This scene depicts Iwakawa Jirôkichi observing his wife Otawa who is seated inside a palanquin (kago, 駕籠). He holds a folding fan (ôgi, 扇) decorated with a bellflower (kikiyô, 桔梗). Complementing this is the repeated trellis or lattice pattern on his blue robe. Given that the creeping vines of bellflowers are typically trained to climb such fencing, the fan and robe patterns serve as a coordinated "fashion statement."

Our impression is particularly fine, with strong red, blue, and purple, plus the lightly printed green along the lower part of the design.

The poems read (roughly):

Something colorful, fluttering about, spring has come, summer clouds (Iro no nanika haru ya natsu no kumo: いろ/\のなにかはるや夏の雲); signed by the actor Koroku (小六), i.e., Arashi Koroku IV (嵐小六).

Lost in thought, gazing at my reflection, feeling the heat of summer (Omoi shikurete kagami ni mukau atsusa kana: 案しくれてかゝみにむかふ暑さ哉); signed Rikaku (璃鶴), the poetry name (haigô) for Kitsusaburô II.

References: Ikeda Bunko Library, acc. no. Z0453-519