Bō shibari (棒縛)

Tied to a Stick,

orig. 1927-1928

by Yamaguchi Ryōshū

IHL Cat. #2694

Description

Depicting Tarō Kaja disguised as a demon in the play Oni Shimizu from the print collection "Kyōgenga taikan." Originally published in 1927-1928, this collection's print may be from the original edition or one of the later editions using the original blocks, issued in 1966 and again in 1976.

BŌ SHIBARI (Tied to a Stick)

Source: Source:  A Guide to Kyogen, Don Kenny, Hinoki Shoten, 1968, p. 31-32.

Shite [lead role] TARŌ  KAJA

Ado [supporting role] MASTER

Koado [secondary role] JIRŌ KAJA

Tarō Kaja and Jirō Kaja are great sake lovers and their Master has heard that they always steal his sake and get drunk when he is away from the house. He has hit upon a plan to prevent their getting to the sake this time. He calls Jirō Kaja and asks for his cooperation in tricking Tarō Kaja and tying him to a pole. Jirō Kaja reluctantly agrees and they call Tarō Kaja and ask him to demonstrate the use of the pole in self-defenxe. He is very proud of his ability in this art and while he is completely absorbed in his demonstration, they catch his hands and tie them to the pole across the back of his neck. Jirō Kaja is enjoying Tarō Kaja's plight when the Master sneaks up behid him and ties his hands behind his back. He explains the reason for what he has done and goes out on some business or other.

Tied up in this manner, they find they are even thirstier than usual, and decide to go to the sake cellar and at least smell the sake. This makes them still thirstier. Tarō Kaja hits upon an idea, gets a huge sake cup and ladles some sake out, tries to drink it, but since he can't get it to his mouth, holds it for Jirō Kaja to drink. When it comes Tarō Kaja's turn to drunk, he ladles the sake, then puts the full cup in Jirō Kaja's hands (which are tied behind his back), gets down on his knees and drinks.

They get very drunk and are singing and dancing when the Master comes home. He comes up behind them and they see his reflection in the sake cup on the floor between them. Thinking it is a hallucination, they make up an insulting song about the Master.

The Master chases them out of the sake cellar in a rage.

In the Ōkura script, the Master calls Tarō Kaja and asks him to cooperate in tying Jirō Kaja up. It is Tarō Kaja's idea to have Jirō Kaja perform with the stick and to tie him to it. The Master does not explain why he has tied them up, but they immediately guess the reason after he leaves. In the end the Master chases Tarō Kaja off, then threatens to beat Jirō Kaja, but Jirō Kaja gets loose and chases the Master off with his stick. The rest is the same as the Izumi script.

Shigeyama Sengoro XIV (left) in Bō shibari. Photo: Halca Uesugi.

Source: https://kyogen-ireland.org/shigeyama

What is Kygen

In formal terms it is "the medieval comic form [dating from the mid-14th century] that evolved alongside the serious noh and, like noh, became a seminal influence on kabuki and puppet theater."[1] While "noh is usually about gods and spirits . . .  kyōgen is always about human beings."[2] It is noh's comedic counterpart, "sandwiched between two noh plays, or even between two halves of a single drama."[3] Today, there are two schools of kyōgen, the Ōkura school 大蔵流  and the Izumi school 和泉流.

"The kyōgen doings are based on a slender repertoire of situations. [About 260 plays.] A lord has a stupid servant (always called Tarō Kaja. . .) who cannot tell a fan from an umbrella [as in the play "Suehirogari"], or who inadvertently gives away to his mistress his master's philanderings, or who drinks up all the sake and fills up the bottles with hot water and then tries to talk the master into thinking he is getting drunk. Tarō is joined by a large cast of comic characters, each as distinctive as himself, each sublimely stupid, as gloriously sly, as eternally innocent. [I]t is our foibles that kyōgen celebrates.[4]

[1] New Kabuki Encyclopedia: A Revised Adaptation of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1997, p. 374.

[2] A Guide to Kyogen, Don Kenny, Hinoki Shoten, 1968, p. 7. 

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid., p. 8.

Print Details

Bō shibari

蓼洲作 Ryōshū saku with Ryōshū seal