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The Cicada Shell (Utsusemi) Chapter 3

Kunisada I (Toyokuni III), 1853, Wood cut
The Cicada Shell (Utsusemi) Chapter 3
The Cicada Shell (Utsusemi) Chapter 3
The Cicada Shell (Utsusemi) Chapter 3
Library Item
Item no
The Cicada Shell (Utsusemi) Chapter 3 from the series "A Modern Collection of Genji in Colour Prints" ("Ima Genji nishiki-e awase")
Two women, one seated and the other standing, are shown in an interior setting. The standing woman wears a grey kimono decorated with a seashell design. In her hands she holds a lacquer container filled with counters for the board game Go. Next to her, a woman holding a scroll leans upon a wooden Go board. The Japanese game of Go is often compared to Chess, as it is a game of strategic moves. The seated woman wears an outer kimono with a butterfly design and her red obi is decorated with a starburst pattern. Her clothes are loosely draped around her. On the floor in front of her lies a red 'uchiwa' round fan. Behind the women, the screen doors open onto a view of a lake and Mount Fuji. An elaborate freestanding lamp illuminates the room with its candlelight. The scene suggests a summer evening.

This image derives from the serial novel or 'gokan', 'A Fake Murasaki and a Rustic Genji' (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji) written by Ryutei Tanehiko and illustrated by Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), that was published between 1829-1842. This story reworks elements from the 'Tale of Genji' and transposes the action from the Heian period (794-1185) to the time of the Muromachi era's Onin Wars (1467-1477).

In Tanehiko's 'A Rustic Genji', the characters of Utsusemi and her husband the Vice Governor of Iyo are transformed into Karaginu and Kiyonosuke.
Artist / maker
Kunisada I (Toyokuni III)
27.9 x 19.8 cm
Art and Design Library
Rights and purchasing
Digital FileElectronic file 72 dpi JPEG
£6.10(inc. VAT 20%)
Digital FileElectronic File 300 dpi TIFF
£31.00(inc. VAT 20%)
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