Jesters on sword banzuke, 1893

Banzuke Sumo


While sumo wrestlers initially competed in sponsored tournaments within the grounds of shrines and temples in Japan, by the very early 1780s sumo wrestling had become a fundamental piece of Japanese life, now it really is the most well-known nationwide sports in Japan. Sumo wrestlers were regarded not merely as sporting heroes, but also as embodiments of religious and judge ritual. Due to the popularity of suits and wrestlers, ukiyo-e musicians and artists from Katsukawa and Utagawa schools depicted numerous sumo subjects, eg suits, portraits and processions of wrestlers, and sumo banzuke – printed programs, playbills or guide listings of in addition produced for Yoshiwara entertainment organizations and kabuki theatres.

The state sumo banzuke ended up being imprinted per event held in April and November during Edo period. The programs’ formal design ended up being divided in to three vertical sections, with sumo wrestler teams noted on each side (eastern to the right, west left) of a central panel that included the names of referees and home elevators the competition. Sumo banzuke had been printed in a special design of sumomoji (strong shots), reflecting the wrestlers’ energy and physical strength.

As well as the official banzuke, a graphic banzuke was also published for specifically popular bouts, such as this one produced for a special New Year tournament of 1859, created by ukiyo-e musician Utagawa Yoshinku for the Utagawa School. The composition for the program is split into west and eastern edges, echoing the instructions from where the wrestlers joined the sumo ring. Wrestlers noted on the same part couldn't compete keenly against one another.

Accommodating portraits of more than 100 sumo wrestlers, along side step-by-step information regarding the competition, within an individual sheet of report had been a substantial compositional challenge. In Yoshinku’s innovative design the highest-ranking wrestlers are ranged across the top, the essential famous wrestlers face-off in the middle as well as 2 cascading lines of wrestlers, decreasing in position while they descend the page, zigzag to your bottom. The awesome actual presences of the 121 sumo wrestlers tend to be reinforced by this ranking arrangement, which includes their names. The corpulent physiques of first ranking at the very top come in comparison into decreasing numbers associated with the most affordable position.

The upper part of the central column holds listed here written information about the competition, displayed vertically:

Tamegoran [For all to see] Ansei 6 (1859) Oshogatsu jojun [new-year tournament] will likely to be held at Ekō-in [a Pure Land Buddhist temple in Ryōgoku, Tokyo] in good weather condition over a ten-day period with Ozumo dohyoiri [a ritual parade held before the tournament].

Beneath these details, three referees with ceremonial followers surmount two tournament criers that have shields inscribed using brands of this famous wrestlers Nishikigi and Sakaigawa. In the bottom for the sheet, unique donation sake drums appear inscribed with all the brands of sponsors.

Furthermore banzuke, Yoshinku created a print depicting a procession of sumo wrestlers for a fundraising event in 1859. The two works present a vivid record of 1 of the very most essential types of entertainment during Edo period.

Julietta Park, Assistant Curator, Asian Art, nationwide Gallery of Victoria (in 2013).



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