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Actor Bando Mitsugoro III as the Maiden of Dojoji

Utagawa Kunisada , (Japanese, 1786-1864)
Edo period

Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H: 36.3 W: 25.6 cm

The Anne van Biema Collection S2004.3.128

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Bando Mitsugoro III (1773-1831), a leading star of the Edo stage in the early nineteenth century, performs a spectacular dance piece in which the Maiden of Dojoji transforms herself into a demon. The demonic form of a character is often revealed through rapid, seemingly instantaneous costume changes achieved by wearing multilayered costumes that can be readily removed. Actors displayed their virtuosity in roles such as the Maiden of Dojoji, a young girl named Kiyo who had fallen into unrequited love with a young priest. After destroying the temple bell and the object of her affection in a fit of anger over his rejection, she returns to the temple in the guise of a young pilgrim and reveals her true identity in the course of a dance. Mitsugoro engaged in an artistic rivalry with the Osaka actor, Nakamura Utaemon III when the latter came to act in Edo, and transformation pieces like this dance were one of the areas in which the actors competed.

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