This woodblock print was from the kabuki scene of 47 ronin piece which represent Oboshi Yuranosuke 大星由良之助 played by the actor Sawamura Chojuro V and his son rikiya 大星力弥 played by Iwai Kumesaburo III .
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The play is based on a true story that took place in 1701, it is called "the incident of Aso" (赤穂事件, Akō jiken), The daimyo Tsunayoshi Tokugawa (徳川綱吉) 1646-1709 ordered the daimyo of Aso clan, Asano Naganori 浅野長矩, (1667 - 1701) to organize rites in the house of the shogunate, during the preparations, Aso hit with his wakizashi the attendant for the rites Kira Yoshinaka. This act was punished by seppuku, the daimyo died and his clan was dissolved and these samurai became ronins.
Some of these ronins formatted a revenge with Oishi Kuranosuke at their head, they prepare and outwit the spies and the vigilance of their enemy after 11 months. Then they came to strike and attacked Kira's house. They beheaded him with the tanto with which their master was made seppuku. They rowed Kira's head on Kira's grave in Sengaku-ji temple (泉岳寺). They were condemned to seppuku and were buried alongside their lord.
They are the eternal symbol of the true samurai of his loyalty, righteousness and courage in giving his life for his lord and in the face of death.
The play does not respect the real story and therefore the events take place during the Muromachi period (1333-1568), and the names of the characters were changed to avoid shogunal censorship. The play is in 10-12 acts. This fiction has added dramatic imaginary situations to the historical fact.
So in this print, it is the fictional character Oboshi Yuranosuke 大星由良之助 and not Ōishi Yoshio (大石良雄, April 24, 1659 - March 20, 1703) who was the steward of the Aso clan who is represented in a scene with his son who hold the tanto with which their late master was made seppuku.
Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞, 1786- January 12, 1865) also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III (三代歌川豊国) is one of the most popular ukiyoe painters of the 19th century and also one of the most prolific and having most successful financially, ahead of Kuniyoshi 国芳 and Hiroshige 広重. Utagawa Kunisada was born in Edo in 1786. His father, who died the following year, was an amateur poet of little reputation. He was accepted around 1800 as an apprentice by one of the greatest masters of drawing on wooden boards, Toyokuni. He began by making prints of actors, Bijin-ga, sumo-e, landscapes and warriors. He also produces a large number of shunga (erotic engravings). He is said to have produced more than 20,000 prints. In 1844-1845, Kunisada Utagawa changed his artist name, taking the name of his master, Toyokuni, and thus became Toyokuni III. He died in Edo after having trained several students such as Toyohara Kunichika 豊原国周 and Utagawa Kunisada II 歌川国定.
|era||edo period 1603-1867|