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Nakamura Tamasuke I as Moriguchi Kuro (1852)

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Facing clashing swords in a richly decorated kimono,Moriguchi Kuro fiercely readies himself to fight.

This dynamic scene derives from the kabuki play "The Book of the Eight Dog Heroes", commonly referred to as 'Hakkenden'. A complex story that originally took 30 years to complete, it’s based around eight half-brothers descendant from a dog and so bear the word "dog" in their surnames. Like many Kabuki plays, one of the main inspirations was the Chinese epic novel "The Water Margin", as well as Buddhist philosophy and shintoism. Kabuki actor Nakamura Tamasuke I plays the role of Moriguchi Kurô, although not one of the eight brothers, he is a valiant retainer of Satomi yûshin.

Take a look at Moriguchi Kuro’s fascinating kimono, the design features ornate hexagons and elegant cranes. The hexagons imitate tortoise shell, which represents strength and long life. The crane is a revered creature, which is said to live for centuries in the land of immortal gods, it is a sign of good luck and used only for the clothes of nobles.

His 'kesho' (hero make-up) is red which represents a good character, and the striking sweep of crimson exaggerates Moriguchi Kuro’s expression with passion and anger.

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