PERSONALLY CURATED, REASONABLY PRICED
Kunichika - 100 Roles of Baiko
The theatre was a lifetime passion of Kunichika’s. In 1893, Kunichika was commissioned by a publisher and a printer (Fukuda Kumajirō and Gusokuya Kahei) to create the series "One Hundred Roles of Baiko," chronicling the various characters played by the famous actor Onoe Kikugoro V, whose stage name was "Baiko." Baiko was the son of an actor and theater owner. During this time in Japan, Kabuki had become a popular art form and Actors like Baiko were big celebrities. If we look at the salaries of the time (around 1880’s), a policeman would make about 80 yen a year, the popular Kabuki stars could make 1,500 Yen a year (that’s $800K in todays money). He was the foremost actor of domestic dramas or sewamono and also one of the pioneers of zangirimono, or “cropped-hair plays,” These were called because of the fashionable Western-style haircuts the actors wore. Kunichika the artist, and Baiko were friends, often hanging out together backstage drinking tea and chatting.
This series is in a vertical format called “oban”. If we start from the top left, we see the description of the role Baiko’s playing and the play name. Next to that is a small image of a supporting actor in the play, to the right of that in the black rectangle is the series title “100 roles of baiko. The main area of the print is our star Baiko in a 1/2 length portrait. On the left border we see the number of the print, address of the printer and publisher along with the publication date and at the bottom left the publishers seal. On the right side we see the The carver’s name and Kunichika’s signature. All the prints in the series follow a similar convention, so they are easy to recognize. This series, also uses special printing techniques like blind embossing, metallic inks, and mica powder.
The baiko series is really a fantastic accomplishment - and no other artist I know did a 100 print series of a Kabuki actor. Kunichika in fact did two 100 print series, this one and one of 100 prints of another famous actor Ichikawa Danjuro. These prints are very affordable and collectable. We only have about 60 of the 100 prints in the series. Note: The prints in this collection below are not for sale BUT we may have some duplicates for sale if you do a search for "Baiko".