kabuki-zu 歌舞伎図
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Pictures of *kabuki 歌舞伎. In the broad sense of the term, kabuki-zu means the paintings and prints which depict kabuki scenes and includes woodblock prints *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 examples, which are also called *kabuki-e 歌舞伎絵. In the narrow sense, however, kabuki-zu is one theme of genre painting made during the 16c and 17c (see *kinsei shoki fuuzokuga 近世初期風俗画) found both as an individual painting subject and as one part of larger compositions, especially the Scenes In and Around the Kyoto *rakuchuu rakugai-zu 洛中洛外図 and the Amusements on the Riverbed at Shijou Avenue *Shijougawara-zu 四条河原図. Kabuki plays are said to have begun in the spring of 1603 when Okuni 阿国, reputed to be a priestess miko 巫子 of Izumo Taisha 出雲大社 in Shimane prefecture, performed dances and comic skits on the grounds of Kitano Tenmanguu 北野天満宮 in Kyoto. Her erotic dances as performed by a troupe of girls were called "kabuki," which derived from the late 16c colloquial expression "kabuku かぶく" meaning eccentric or a strange fashion. Okuni kabuki 阿国歌舞伎, using only drums and flutes but no shamisen 三味線 for music, rapidly gained popularity and in 1607 was performed at Edo castle. By the second decade of the 17c, the stalls and outdoor theatres at Kitano and the Shijou Riverbed became home to several groups of Courtesan's kabuki, yuujo kabuki 遊女歌舞伎, such as Sadoshima 佐渡島, Douki 道喜, Uneme 采女, and Mataichi 又一, all developing the style of Okuni kabuki. In 1629 the government bakufu 幕府 banned women's kabuki, onna kabuki 女歌舞伎, as a threat to public morals. Young men or boys wakashuu kabuki 若衆歌舞伎 immediately replaced them in performances. In 1657, young men were banned from the stage for using kabuki as a front for prostitution, and older men's kabuki, yarou kabuki 野郎歌舞伎 was inaugurated. Kabuki continues to be performed exclusively by men to this day. Okuni kabuki performed near Kitano Tenmanguu was illustrated in the rakuchuu rakugai-zu screens (early 17c, Yamaoka 山岡 collection) and was depicted as an independent theme on the screens (early 17c, Idemitsu 出光 Museum of Art and Yamamoto 山本 collection). In addition Okuni kabuki was rendered in handscrolls (Kyoto University Museum). Typically these kabuki scenes show several women dancing on stage to the accompaniment of seated musicians, while customers watch, seated or standing in front of the stage. Okuni is typically shown in the clothes of a priestess bikuni 比丘尼, wearing a bamboo pilgrim hat and striking a gong suspended from her neck. Scenes of men's kabuki, datable after 1652 and distinguishable by performers' shaven front-heads, are paired with pictures of various amusements featuring women fujo yuuraku-zu 婦女遊楽図 on a pair of six-panel screens in the Ootsuga 大津賀 collection, Toyama prefecture.


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