Attributed to Katsukawa Shunsho, Japanese. The actors Nakayama Kojuro VI as Osada Taro Kagemune (in reality Hatcho Tsubute no Kiheiji) in the guise of a lamplighter of Gion Shrine and Sawamura Sojuro III as Komatsu no Shigemori. 1726-92. Clarence Buckingham Collection. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Look at this!
The Actors... is an 18th century Japanese woodblock print. During that time, woodblocks were used to create multi-colored prints of text of pictures depicting Japanese life. Kabuki actors were popular subjects for these prints.
Kabuki is a traditional form of musical theater that has existed for over 400 years in Japan. To see a kabuki play is a sensory experience: from the actors' dramatic facial expressions to the extravagant costumes; from the thick, mask-like makeup to the beautiful music and dance choreography. Kabuki is also a unique experience because men play both the male and female roles!
Think about it.
Why do you think kabuki actors were popular subjects for woodblock prints?
So far, you have become familiar with Japanese art (woodblock prints) and Japanese theater (kabuki). Are you also familiar with a form of Japanese poetry called haiku? A haiku has three lines. The first and last lines have five syllables while the second line has seven syllables.
Here's a sample haiku (count the syllables):
An old woodblock print
Of male Kabuki actors
You can see above.
Now try writing your own haiku based on this woodblock print.
Write a poem about this art. Click here to write.