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, けんのけいこ)

Description:

Play: Norikake Soga dôchű sugoroku

Date: 2nd month of 1847 (censors Mera and Murata)

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 in the play Norikake Soga dôchű sugoroku.

 

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, 道化拳合)

Description: Animals resemble Ichikawa Kuzô II (tiger), Nakamura Utaemon IV (toad), and Matsumoto Kôshirô VI (fox)

Date: 2nd month of 1847 (censors Mera and Murata)

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, 新作つく/\けん)

Description: Yoshitsune and the tengu king

Date: 8th month of 1847

Publisher: Iba-ya Kyűbei

Linhart: 21/10013

 

Title: A Ken Game for Good Fortune in the New Year of the Monkey (Iroma sarutoshi haru no kotobuki ocha no ko ken, 色真申歳 春の寿き お茶のこけん)

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 (censors Hama and Kinugasa)

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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