yakusha hyoubanki  役者評判記
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Printed books criticizing actors' skills. Theater reviews were not published in booklet form until 1656 with YAKUSHA-NO-UWASA 役者の噂 (Gossip about Actors). The oldest extant review is dated 1660 and entitled YAROUMUSHI 野郎虫 (Insect Rogue). In it, actors are evaluated for their looks based on the earlier style of courtesan critiques known as *yuujo hyoubanki 遊女評判記. The BEKUSAKAZUKI 可杯 (Turned Over Sake Cup) of 1676 and the YAKUSHA DAIHYOUBAN 役者大評判 (Great Repute of Actors) followed and led to more objective analyses of the actors' performances. In 1699, a book called YAKUSHA KUCHIJAMISEN 役者口三味線 (Cajolery about Actors) was published by the Hachimonjiya 八文字屋 bookstore. See *hachimonjiyabon 八文字屋本. It was a small book with a black cover, the width of the book being greater than the length yokohon 横本. It consisted of three volumes devoted to actors in Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka. It contained a critique of the actors in each performance and several pages of illustrations. This book was so popular that it became the standard format and Hachimonjiya retained a monopoly for publishing yakusha hyoubanki throughout the Edo period.
The illustrations in the yakusha hyoubanki were mostly unsigned. Those published in Kyoto and Osaka followed the styles of the print artists Yoshida Hanbee 吉田半兵衛 (act. ca. 1685) and Nishikawa Sukenobu 西川祐信 (1671-1751), the latter being the attributed illustrator of Yakusha Kuchijamisen. In Edo, the artists of the Utagawa school *Utagawaha 歌川派 painted likeness pictures *nigao-e 似顔絵 of actors forYAKUSHA KUCHIJAMISEN at the end of the Edo period.


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