Three Kabuki Actors Playing Hanetsuki

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyasu (Japanese, 1794–1834)

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: ca. 1823

Culture: Japan

Medium: Triptych of polychrome woodblock prints (surimono); ink and color on paper

Dimensions: Triptych, each: 7 1/4 x 8 3/8 in. (18.4 x 21.3 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, Jack Greene Gift, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.715.4a–c


Compared to his teacher, Utagawa Toyokuni, Kuniyasu portrayed actors with more angular, sharp-edged lines, particularly in the treatment of facial details.

This rare surimono triptych was produced in honor of the New Year. Three actors play the badminton-like game called hanetsuki, a traditional New Year's activity. Humorous poems by contemporary poets are inscribed throughout the three sheets.