A woodblock print on paper depicting the image of a woman in a red robe and holding a smoking pipe. A corresponding poem inscribed at the top in both Chinese and Japanese.
A female prostitute wearing a red robe with a hood, disguising herself as the Bodhidharma. This is a parody of the fact that the nickname for a prostitute was daruma, an epithet for Bodhidharma. The image depicts an equivalence between the prostiue and the patriarch Bodhidharma.
Kabuki Actor Iwai Hanshiro IV in a role as a woman with a sword. The stage appears to be dark aside from a lantern on the ground behind her, which emanates a triangular stream of yellow light directly upwards. The woman looks alertly to her left, with her right hand within her long kimono sleeve, hovering just above the sword handle.
The male and female figures in Japanese prints are often difficult to discern. The conspicuous difference is that men can be identified by the shaved tops of their heads. When an actor portrays a feminine role, he would wear a piece of cloth on his head to conceal the shaved area, as depicted in this print. The lantern indicates the woman in the drama is going out in the night. She was perhaps using the light as a signal to her lover while she hid in the dark. The artist’s rendering of the light adds a clever dramatic effect.
The majority of this print depicts a deep architectural setting. In front of the buildings a wedding procession takes place. Rats, in daimyo fashion, are celebrating.
The Rat’s Wedding is a fable known across much of Asia, including Japan, in which a young rat female comes of age. Her parents decide to wed her to the most powerful being in the world, and ask the sun to marry her. Although honored by their request, the sun tells them that clouds are stronger than he, blocking his rays. They make their proposal to a cloud, who directs them to the wind, and the wind bows to the strength of the wall. The wall explains that the strongest force in the world is a rat, able to make holes in his frame. The rat maiden is finally wed to a rat, and the jubilant procession is depicted here.