Entry by Ethan Tampus: Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees

Resource added
Actors Iwai Shijaku II as Shizuka and Nakamura Shikan IV as Fox Tadanobu

Full description

This 1800s artifact depicts a scene from a play titled Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees. The highlighted actors in the scene are the onnagata (male playing female role) Iwai Shijaku II, who plays the role of Shizuka, and actor Nakamura Shikan IV, who plays the role of Fox (Kitsune) Tadanobu.

One can see the striking characteristics that made up Kabuki theatre during the Edo period. Immediately one may notice the radiant and flashy colors with the color palette consisting of red, green, pink, and a healthy in between of all those shades. These bright and “popping” colors were a common motif in the Kabuki style, and were seen quite a bit on character costumes. As one can view from the painting, the costumes of each actor aren’t shy about distinct and colorful patterns. One can also see the makeup design from the actors, as the color palette for the face and skin tone was white, a recurring makeup choice in this style of theatre. Another noticeable characteristic about Kabuki theatre that is represented well in this artifact is the use of abstract and almost “inhuman” gestures, as one can take a look at the shape and posture of these characters and perceive it as movements that aren’t necessarily “natural” to how humans would move around. This was a stylistic choice in kabuki, as the strong and loud gestures signified moments of high dramatic tension.

Author: Ethan Campus

  • type
  • created on
  • file format
  • file size
    80 KB
  • creator
    Utagawa Kuniteru
  • credit
  • restrictions
    Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004
  • rights
    Public Domain
  • rights holder
    Scholten Japanese Art