Miscellaneous prints of the game of ken,

Part I

 

Prints depicting the game of ken () are called ken no e (拳の絵).  Ken was often played as a drinking game and was incorporated into several kabuki plays as a dance.  The prints with small figures illustrate the dance steps.  After the imposition of a ban on actor prints in 1842, Kuniyoshi produced numerous humorous designs with thinly disguised actors’ portraits as animals or other objects.  All the prints in this section are a size known as ôban (about 14 by 10 inches or 36 by 25 centimeters).  Additional information about these prints may be found in the article: Linhart, Sepp, Kuniyoshi’s Ken Caricatures between 1847 and 1853, Andon, Vol. 83, 2008, pp. 5-29. 

 

Similar to the following print but lacking the publisher’s and censor’s seals

 

Title: Ken Exercises (Ken no keiko)

Description:

Play: Norikake Soga dôchű sugoroku

Date: 1st month of 1847

Publisher: No seal

Linhart: 1

 

 

 

Title: Ken Exercises (Ken no keiko)

Description:

Play: Norikake Soga dôchű sugoroku

Date: 2nd month of 1847

Publisher: Man (phonetic pronunciation of ), possibly fake

Linhart: 1a/10123

 

NOTE: This print is unsigned.  The frog, fox, and tiger are believed to represent the kabuki actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Matsumoto Kôshirô VI, and Ichikawa Kuzô II, respectively.

 

Title: Ken Exercises (Ken no keiko)

Description: Dancing children

Date: 2nd month of 1847

Publisher: Wakasa-ya Yoichi

Linhart: 3/10007  

 

Title: Strange Ken Figures (Dôke ken awase)

Description:

Date: 2nd month of 1847

Publisher: Iba-ya Sensaburô

Linhart: 4/10010   

 

 

Another state of the above design without the ground color.  I am grateful to Marc DeVriese for this image.

 

Another state of the above design with neither ground color nor the blue on top.  I am grateful to Marc DeVriese for this image.

 

Title: A Popular Three Man Play (Ryűkô mitsu byôshi)

Description:

Date: 2nd month of 1847

Publisher: Kazusa-ya Iwazô

Linhart: 5/10011   

 

This is another state of the above print with a simplified design.

 

Title: Once Again the Frog Game (Aikawarazu kairu asobi)

Description:

Date: 3rd month of 1847

Publisher: Sagin

Linhart: 7/10012

 

Title: Dôke ken nan de mo kan de mo

Description: Fox, frog, tiger and bamboo

Date: 3rd month of 1847

Publisher: Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Linhart: 12/10008

 

Another state of the above design

 

Title: Comic Ken in Asakusa’s Okuyama (Dôke Asakusa Okuyama ken)

Description: Enma, Shôzuka, and Asahina playing ken

Date: 4th month of 1847

Publisher: Yahata-ya Sakujirô

Linhart: 13/10018

 

Title: Comic ken zake at Okuyama in  Asakusa (Asakusa Okuyama dôke kenzake)

Description: Enma and Asahina playing the game of ken-zake

Date: 4th month of 1847

Publisher: Yahata-ya Sakujirô

Linhart: 14/10006

 

Title: Tsuku mono ken

Description: Actors Onoe Baikô IV as a swallow, Ichikawa Kuzô II as a shamisen, and Nakamura Utaemon IV as the tengu king with a sake on his forehead

Date: 9th month of 1847

Publisher: Iba-ya Sensaburô

Linhart: 16/10019

 

Title: Untitled

Description: Sake bottle and cup

Date: 9th month of 1847

Publisher: Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Linhart: 17/10016

 

Title: Irokurabe tsuku

Description: Sake barrel and box

Date: 9th month of 1847

Publisher: Kawaguchi-ya Uhe

Linhart: 18/10014

 

Title: Hittsuku ken

Description: Sake barrel and box

Date: 9th month of 1847

Publisher: Kawaguchi-ya Uhe

Linhart: 19/10015

 

Title: Tsuku tsuku ken (つくつくけん)

Description: Sake can and cup

Date: 9th month of 1847

Publisher: Wakasa-ya Uhei

Linhart: 20/10017

 

Title: New Sticking Together Ken (Shinsaku tsukutsuku ken)

Description: Yoshitsune and the tengu king

Date: 8th month of 1847

Publisher: Iba-ya Kyűbei

Linhart: 21/10013

 

Title: Iroma sarutoshi haru no kotobuki ocha no ko ken

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV depicted as pine, Ichikawa Kuzô II as a turtle, and Seki Sanjűrô III as a crane

Date: 1st month of 1848

Publisher: Ebisu-ya Shôshichi

Linhart: 28/10020

Linhart” refers to listing in the article ‘Kuniyoshi’s Ken Caricatures between 1847 and 1853’, by Sepp Linhart in Andon, Vol. 83, 2008, pp. 5-29

 

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