Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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The character Umeōmaru at Umenoki Village, between Minakuchi and Ishibe

  • Description

    The hugely popular kabuki play ‘Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy’ is based on the life of a ninth-century courtier and calligrapher, who was falsely accused of treason and banished from the court. The character of Umeōmaru is one of a set of triplets, each a loyal retainer to one of the main characters. Ume means ‘plum blossom’ and the pattern on Umeōmaru’s kimono identifies him.

    The actor wears the bright red face make-up known as ‘kumadori’. This type of make-up emphasizes a character’s intense emotions and was worn by kabuki actors when performing the roles of superheroes or villains.

  • Details

    Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy
    Associated place
    AsiaJapanHonshūKantōTōkyō prefecture Tōkyō (place of creation)
    AsiaJapanHonshūKantōTōkyō prefecture Tōkyō (place of publication)
    AsiaJapanHonshū Tōkaidō road (Umenoki Village) (subject)
    Utagawa Kunisada (1823-1880) (designer)
    Associated people
    Sumiyoshiya Masagorō (active mid-19th century) (publisher)
    Fukushima Giemon (active c. 1849 - 1853) (censor)
    Ichikawa Omezō II (active mid-19th century) (subject)
    Material and technique
    Nishiki-e, woodblock print with ink and colour
    mount 55.6 x 40.2 cm (height x width)
    sheet 35.1 x 24.5 cm (height x width)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    Presented by Christ Church College, University of Oxford, 1983.
    Accession no.



  • kimono

    Kimonos, or 'the thing worn' in Japanese, had seasonal designs. The style of kimonos would change four times a year, and winter kimonos would be padded.

Past Exhibition

see (1)


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


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