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Wakashima Gonemon and the Bell

Wakashima Gonemon

Colour print from woodblocks. Ôban format.
Publisher: Masudaya. 11/1867.
Keyes 202-13

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From the series Tales of the Floating World on Eastern Brocade (Azuma no nishiki ukiyo kôdan)

published in 1867-8.

In this series, popular stories (kôdari) of drama and violence from various sources were retold by Kanagaki Rôbun, whose text appears at the top of the print.

Wakashima Gonemon dives into a whirlpool to retieve an ancient dragon-headed bell at the bottom of the Sumida river. According to the text on the print, the Water (or Dragon) God was unwilling to part with the old bell, the rope broke and the bell is still there at the bottom of the river; hence the origin of the term Kanegafuchi (bell deep).

Purchased from the Rylands Fund with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund, 2003