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Tsukioka Kōgyo, 月岡耕漁
The Art of Noh, 1869-1927

The University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) owns and curates the largest collection of Japanese color woodblock prints depicting the Noh theatre created by the artist Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927) held outside of Japan. The four sets comprise Nōgaku zue 能樂圖繪, or Pictures of Noh; Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番, or Prints of One Hundred Noh Plays; Nōga taikan 能画大鑑, or A Great Collection of Prints of Noh Plays; and Kyōgen gojūban 狂言五十番, or Fifty Kyōgen Plays.

Nōgaku zue was published in Tokyo between the Meiji years 30-35, or 1897-1902. The series comprises five volumes of 261 prints inspired by the plays of classical Japanese Noh theatre. The ULS’s Nōgaku zue consists of five bound Meiji period printed albums, protected by a silk wrap-around chitsu (chemise) and stored in a modern archival box. Each volume is of equal size and thickness and bound in the manner of traditional Japanese orihon, or folding scrolls. Each volume contains 52 or 53 full-page, multi-colored woodblock prints of Noh (also spelled: Nō, Nô) theatre subjects. It is believed that Frederick Mortimer Clapp, first Chair of the History of Art Department at the University of Pittsburgh, purchased this rare five-volume set around 1926-1928 with funds donated by Helen Clay Frick.

Nōgaku hyakuban was published in Tokyo between 1922 and 1926. The Nōgaku hyakuban prints are dramatically different from those in the Nōgaku zue. Here Kōgyo focused on the shite, the main actor, and, for the most part, excluded other actors. Nōgaku hyakuban consists of 120 prints for 100 Noh plays. The prints were originally sold as a monthly series of envelopes containing three prints. The ULS owns an envelope donated by Professors Emeriti Richard and Mae Smethurst.

Nōga Taikan  was published in Tokyo between 1925 and 1930. Each print represents a scene from a Noh play similar to how it appeared on stage. Of Kōgyo’s three sets of Noh prints, the Nōga Taikan prints seem to show the plays more accurately than either Nōgaku zue or Nōgaku hyakuban. The ULS owns a complete set of the five Nōga Taikan volumes, 200 prints in all, gifted by Professors Emeriti Richard and Mae Smethurst. The ULS also purchased a revised edition of Nōga Taikan published in 1936, in which the prints were bound as one volume.

Kyōgen gojuban was published in Tokyo in 1927. It is an album of 50 prints, inspired by the Kyōgen theatre, the comedic counterpart to Noh, with prints produced by Kōgyo and his daughter, Tsukioka Gyokusei (1908-2009). The ULS’s Kyōgen gojūban is bound as one volume in folding album format in the manner of traditional Japanese orihon, or folding scrolls. This album of color woodblock prints is similar to, but not the same as, the bound volumes of Kōgyo’s Nōgaku zue

For each distinct set, you will find contextual essays and links to Browse & Search the prints in the ULS Digital Collections site. You can also visit our complete collection of Noh prints.  This site contains 632 prints from our four sets that depict the same Noh and Kyōgen play, along with English summaries of Noh play provided by P.G. O’Neill titled A Guide to Nō. Hinoki Shoten, 1964.

Acknowledgements

The Kogyo project represents the work of a team of scholars, graduate students, digitization specialists, librarians, and administrators, including:

The University of Pittsburgh

  • Dr. Richard Smethurst, Department of History
  • Dr. Mae Smethurst, Department of Classics
  • Dr. Elizabeth Oyler, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
  • Asian Studies Center 

The University of Pittsburgh Library System

  • Dr. Kornelia Tancheva and Edward Galloway
  • Dr. Rush G. Miller and Michael Dabrishus
  • Aaron Brenner, Digital Scholarship & Creation
  • Michael Bolam, Metadata and Discovery Unit
  • Jeanann Croft Haas and Margaret P. McGill, Archives & Special Collections
  • Hiroyuki N. Good, East Asian Library
  • Kayla Heslin, Archives & Special Collections
  • Kari Johnston, Web Services and Communications
  • Ted Tarka, Katrina Milbrodt, and Silvano Gallego, Digital Research Library
  • Darryl Bishop and Andrew Horbal  

Our External Partners

  • Dr. Nyri Bakkalian, Independent researcher
  • Dr. Debra Taylor Cashion, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University
  • Dr. Bruce Coats, Scripps College
  • Dr. Naoko Gunji, Augustana College Nyri Bakkalian, Independent researcher
  • Shigeru Katsuyama, Hiratsuka Museum of Art
  • Sachie Kobayashi, Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)
  • Gabrielle Lee, Teen Librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
  • Dr. Takahiko Sasaki, KEIKO Institute of Oriental Classics
  • Dr. Reiko Yamanaka, Nogami Memorial Noh Research Institute of Hosei University
  • Manabu & Noriko Ogura, Hachinohe Clinic Machikado Museum

Generous funding for this project came from the Toshiba International Foundation, and the Japan Iron and Steel Federation and the Mitsubishi endowments at the University of Pittsburgh.

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