The armor-pulling scene from a Soga play

Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1615-1868
Color on paper
H x W: 67.7 x 34.6 cm (26 5/8 x 13 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

actor, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e

To 1902
Bunshichi Kobayashi (circa 1861-1923), Boston, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Yokohama, to 1902 [1]

From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunshichi Kobayashi in 1902 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Panel List, L. 19, pg. 5, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Kobayashi Bunshichi (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1861-1923


In this famous scene that appeared in many kabuki versions of the Soga brothers' vendetta to avenge their father's death, Soga no Goro (1174-1193) struggles with Asahina Saburo, who tries to restrain Goro from intervening in a confrontation between his brother Juro (1172-1193) and their uncle. The scene evolved into a dance piece from an enactment of a struggle over the armor that Goro has carried to the scene. This dance was performed in the bravado aragoto style that became a specialty of Edo actors, especially of the Ichikawa Danjuro family line. The actor playing Soga no Goro is likely to be Ichikawa Danjuro II (1689-1758).

Published References
  • Shizuya Fujikaka. Ukiyoe no kenkyu [Study on Ukiyoe]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2: pl. 132.
  • Ukiyo-e Shuka. 19 vols., Tokyo, 1978-1985. vol. 16 (1981): pl. 16.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 31, pp. 76-79.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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