N.1 ukiyo-e woodblock print
Year: 1861
Condition: good
Size: 25 x 35 cm



The man who, in this important woodblock print by the artist Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞), shows off a magnificent tattoo of a dragon is Seiriki Tomigoro (勢力富五郎), sumo wrestler (力士) and servant of the yakuza (ヤクザ) boss Sasagawa no Shigezo (笹川繁蔵). In the upper part of the work the writer and journalist Nozaki Bunzo (野崎文蔵), better known to the public under the pseudonym Kanagaki Robun (仮名垣魯文), traces a quick biography narrating among other things his involvement in the bloody showdown between his clan and that of boss Iioka no Sukegoro (飯岡助五郎).

The print, in which the protagonist is presented with the fictitious name Keiriki (競力) and is played by the actor Nakamura Shikan IV (四代目中村芝翫), is taken from the series “A Modern Suikoden” (近世水滸伝), a referring to the famous Chinese novel “Shui Hu Zhuan” (水浒传), literally “the story by the water margin”, which tells the adventurous epic of a gang of 108 outlaws.

The woodcut, made in June 1861 by the publisher Iseya Kanekichi (伊勢屋兼吉) and by the carver Matsushima Masakichi (松島政吉), despite the right signs of aging and a wormhole on the textual part on the left, is in overall good conditions.