Sugoroku Magic – The Ghost of Seigen

The Priest Seigen and Princess Sakura.

The Priest Seigen and Princess Sakura.

The picture above is the first detail in our series taken from the stunning supernatural Sugoroku board showing at the Toshidama Gallery. It is a sort of compendium  of ghosts, magicians, magic creatures and so on. This is the ‘last square’ – the top left corner and it shows the ghost of the wicked priest Seigen attempting to make off with Princess Sakura.

The story derives from the kabuki drama Saruka hime which premiered in Edo in 1817. Seventeen years before the play opens, when teh character Seigen is the abbot of Hasedera Temple in Kamakura, he falls in love with a young novice, Shiragikumaru. The priest and his protege make a suicide pact flinging themselves off a cliff but although the boy drowns, Seigen survives.

Kuniyoshi. Ogura One Hundred Poets #29: Shiragikumaru, 1845 - 1847.

Kuniyoshi. Ogura One Hundred Poets #29: Shiragikumaru, 1845 – 1847.

When Princess Sakura comes to the temple to enroll as a novice nun, Seigen recognizes her immediately as the female reincarnation of Shiragikumaru and falls in love with him/her all over again. Seigen is unaware that a year beforehand, Sakurahime was raped by a bandit named Gonsuke (who has a temple bell tattooed on his arm), who broke into her father’s house and killed her father and younger brother. Eventually she has a child by him in secret. Sakura encounters Gonsuke once again at the temple and, recognizing him because of his tattoo, falls strangely, madly in love.

By the second half of the drama, Sakurahime (Princes Sakura) has been expelled after being caught with Gonsuke, while Seigen’s attachment to her is so intense that — even after he has been killed by a jealous monk — his ghost roams around, bearing her illegitimate child with him.

Kunisada. Onoe Kikugoro III as the Ghost of the Obsessed Monk Seigen. 1852

Kunisada. Onoe Kikugoro III as the Ghost of the Obsessed Monk Seigen. 1852

Sakurahime becomes an exile, falling into decline  and finally ending up being sold into prostitution by her lover, Gonsuke. Only at the end, reminded by Seigen’s ghost that Gonsuke is in fact the man who ruined her entire family, is she able to exact her revenge.

 

 

About toshidama

Toshidama Gallery sells original nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints. We source our prints from around the world and only stock original, authenticated works of museum quality.
This entry was posted in Asian Art, Edo, Floating World, ghosts, japanese woodblock prints, Sugoroku, supernatural Japanese print, Toshidama Gallery., Uncategorized, Vintage Board Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Sugoroku Magic – The Ghost of Seigen

  1. Pingback: Sugoroku Magic – Unryu-kuro | Toshidama Japanese Prints

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