Two kabuki theatre actors play two samurai, Otomo no Yamanushi and Hanya Gorō. The adopted pose and the hair styles - they appear to be wearing kurumabin wigs - suggest a performance in the aragoto style; moreover, the costume depicted is normally worn in the famous scene commonly known as shibaraku. The crouching figure in the foreground can be identified as the actor Ichikawa Danjūrō IV (市川團十郎), from the facial features and the two large emblems quite visible on the garment worn like a cloak: the mon represents three measures of rice stylised with concentric squares. The scene seems to be paused while he turns to look at the actor behind him, almost certainly Nakamura Nakazō I (中村仲蔵), who is in a menacing pose and armed.
A print of Katsukawa Shunshō from 1770 portrays the same theme with an identical composition, but as a mirror image. This is the play Nue no Mori Ichiyō no Mato (鵺の森一陽の的), performed in the Nakamura theatre on the first day of the eleventh month of 1770: the actors depicted are Ichikawa Danjūrō V and Nakamura Nakazō I, who play Kiu Takiguchi and Taira no Kiyomori.


  • Title: Two Samurai
  • Creator: Torii Kiyomitsu
  • Date: c. 1760
  • Subjects: Kabuki actors
  • Physical Dimensions: w14 x h26.3 cm
  • Origins: Japan
  • Inscriptions: Signed: Torii Kiyomitsu ga (T.K. painted)
  • Provenance: Regione Piemonte
  • Type: Prints
  • Rights: All Rights Reserved - MAO Museo d'Arte Orientale, Turin
  • Medium: Benizuri-e: Xilography on paper

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