Re: Kunisada signature with an addition

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Posted by Hans Olof Johansson ( on September 24, 2014 at 23:38:54:

In Reply to: Kunisada signature with an addition? posted by Guy Pepermans on September 19, 2014 at 20:52:45:


As far as I can remember I haven't seen this mark before, and I have no idea what it means.

According to the dictionaries available to me, it's not a regular kanji character. But it may be a variant character that is not in use nowadays. For instance, you could rearrange the two radicals and get 佃 (pronounced 'den' or 'tsukuda', and meaning "cultivated rice-field"). It doesn't seem to make much sense though, unless perhaps it's an abbreviated name like Tsukudajima, which was a district in Edo.

A more precise dating of the print could perhaps also give a clue to the meaning of the mark. You mentioned the names of the two actors portrayed, but one of these names is obviously not the one given on the print itself. The second half of the name in the upper left corner is partly trimmed off, but in my opinion it reads "Segawa Tamon", which was the name Kikunoj˘ V used in the very beginning of his career. In 1815 his name was changed to Kikunoj˘, so this print was most probably published before his change of name. Kikunoj˘ V was born in 1802 and, though I don't know when young onnagata usually made their debut in those days, I imagine that he didn't have a very long career behind him in 1815. So I believe we can safely say that the print was published in the first half of the 1810s, and most likely towards the middle of the decade.

As you know, on ukiyo-e prints from the first half of the 1810s the kiwame seal was very often accompanied by a gy˘ji, a personal censor's seal. However, the mark in question here doesn't look much like any of the documented gy˘ji seals from this period.

So the mystery remains...

Best regards,
Hans Olof

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