Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726-1793). <em>The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as Raigo Ajari</em>, ca. 1772. Color woodblock print on paper, Sheet: 12 1/16 x 5 15/16 in. (30.9 x 15.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 16.552 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 16.552_IMLS_SL2.jpg)

The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as Raigo Ajari

Artist:Katsukawa Shunsho

Medium: Color woodblock print on paper

Geograhical Locations:

Dates:ca. 1772

Dimensions: Sheet: 12 1/16 x 5 15/16 in. (30.9 x 15.1 cm) Image: 11 7/8 x 5 15/16 in. (30.1 x 15.1 cm)


Accession Number: 16.552

Image: 16.552_IMLS_SL2.jpg,

Catalogue Description:
Sheet: hoso-e Condition: Good, slightly faded, stained along right lower corner. Remarks: Characters on box which actors holds reads: Gyoja (monk). The subject is playing the role of a monk gone bad (identifiable as such because of his shaggy short hair, indicating that his tonsure has been allowed to grow out, and by his box, which reads "monk"). The precise identity of the monk is unknown. One suggestion is that he is playing Raigo Ajari. The character Raigo Ajari appears in the play "Nue no Mori Ichiyo no Mato" (Forest of the Nue Monster: Target of the Eleventh Month) and elsewhere. Although the full plot of the play does not survive, the central story has been recounted in various forms. After fasting for 100 days, the monk Raigo Ajari pleads with Minamoto no Yorimasa to construct an ordination platform for a Buddhist temple. Not only is his request rejected, the monk is poisoned and dies. He then returns as an angry spirit and takes his revenge, either turning into an army of rats or summoning that army, to eat the library of a rival temple. Depictions of Raigo Ajari show him emaciated from fasting, with certain rat-like qualities to foretell the end of the story. The character comes to be associated with the year of the rat and hence appears in astrological texts. Artists before and after Shunsho depicted the subject in various ways. Historic accounts tell of Danjuro V appearing in the very first production of Nue no Mori Ichiyo no Mato at the Nakamura theater in 1970, but in the role of Shibaraku. This was perhaps the same production that inspired Shunsho's image of another actor in the role of Raigo Ajari (see below). Shunsho made two different images of another actor (Nakamura Nakazao I) in the same role, in a print dateable to 1770. Shunsho depicted Danjuro V in a wide variety of roles, including that of other rogue monks, such as Wantetsu (1778) and Mongaku (c. 1784).

Brooklyn Museum