Actor triptychs and diptychs
designed hundreds of triptychs and diptychs of kabuki actors. Titles
era kabuki plays are problematic
because of the lack of copyright laws.
Successful productions were performed in different theaters with various
titles, and popular characters often reappeared in entirely different
plays. Prints depicting identifiable
productions can be dated from theater records.
Date seals started appearing on prints in 2nd intercalary
month* of 1852, but there is occasionally a one month discrepancy between the
seals and theater records. Undoubtedly,
some of the single sheets were never part of a diptych or triptych. Unless otherwise noted, the individual panels
are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.
Additional kabuki prints may
be found in the section, Polyptychs of
four or more sheets. I am grateful
to Ward Pieters for assisting with this section.
Prints identified as to performance and/or month
Prints published between 1815 and the 11th
month of 1846 generally bear a single circular censor’s seal without an oval
between the 12th month of 1846 and the 2nd month of
1852 generally bear two circular censor’s seals without an oval date seal.
Prints published between the 12th month of 1853
and the 11th month of 1857 generally bear a single circular
censor’s seal reading aratame (改, inspected) and an
oval date seal.
*an extra month inserted between
the 2nd and 3rd months in the same manner as an extra day
is added to a leap year
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