Item from the Mokuhankan Flea Market

Bunraku Puppet

Size: 45.5cm by 29.5cm (17.91 in by 11.61 in) | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [XL] ?

Designer: Nishimura Goun

Era: Taisho | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: ¥ 20,000$ 155.00£ 120.00€ 140.00

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Description: This print is from a series of 18 prints published in 1923 by different artists illustrating the works of the famous playwright Chikamatsu Manzaemon ("Dai Chikamatsu Zenshu": The Complete Works of Chikamatsu). Each design represents a character from one of Chikamatsu's plays. He authored more than 100 plays, mainly for the bunraku puppet theater. Bunraku is the traditional puppet theater of Japan; these puppets are operated by three performers without using strings!

In this print, Nishimura Goun is depicting a bunraku puppet who is probably representing a warrior or a samurai because he is wearing a traditional samurai haircut ('chonmage') and a white headdress. He is wearing red stage makeup and adopting an angry expression, this is emphasized by the use of a half-length portrait format that focuses more on the face of the puppet and makes it stand out. Nishimoura Goun really succeeded in representing this puppet because there is something in his expressions or design that makes us, the viewers, guess we are not observing a human being.

This print has a restrained but elegant palette of black, white, beige, and red. This concern for simplicity is not only visible in the colors or in the use of simple lines for the design, but also in the background without a landscape or figurative element. Instead, the background shows a deluxe printing technique which is the use of metallic gold flecks to add some shimmer to it.

The portrait is framed by a gray border suggesting the edge of a hanging scroll.

This print is toned overall and has some spots, and creases but is remaining nice colors for its age.

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