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Puppet in kimono being manipulated by two bunraku puppeteers

Puppet in kimono being manipulated by two bunraku puppeteers

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Puppet in kimono being manipulated by two bunraku puppeteers

Puppet in kimono being manipulated by two bunraku puppeteers in black robes. Woodblock ukiyo-e print by Utagawa Kunisada II, Tokyo, 1850s. From a series of illustrations of popular bunraku plays, this showing the Yaoya Oshichi

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Media ID 23208318

© Florilegius/Mary Evans

Kabuki Kimono Plays Puppet Puppeteer Robe Ukiyo E Utagawa Woodblock Kunisada Oshichi


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This stunning woodblock print by Utagawa Kunisada II, titled 'Yaoya Oshichi,' captures the enchanting world of traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theatre. The centerpiece of the image is a beautifully adorned puppet wearing a kimono, its expressive face and delicate features brought to life by the skillful hands of two bunraku puppeteers clad in black robes. The puppeteers, known as kuroko in Japanese, blend into the background, their focus entirely on manipulating the strings that control the puppet's every movement. Bunraku is a unique form of Japanese puppet theatre that originated in the 1600s. Unlike other puppet traditions, bunraku features large, intricately carved and painted puppets that are controlled by a team of three puppeteers - one for the head and right arm, another for the left arm and legs, and a third for the right leg. This collaborative effort allows for a high degree of realism and emotional depth in the performances. The scene depicted in this print is believed to be from a popular bunraku play featuring the character Yaoya Oshichi, a young woman who lived during the Edo period. The story revolves around her tragic love affair with a samurai named Sagikoro, and her eventual suicide out of despair. The woodblock print captures a moment from the play, perhaps depicting a scene from the street or a marketplace. This exquisite print is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Japanese puppet theatre, and offers a glimpse into the intricate world of bunraku and its enduring appeal. The intricate details, bold colors, and dynamic composition make it a true masterpiece of the ukiyo-e tradition.

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