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Ma Brigade, Fifth Group (Gobangumi): (Actor Nakamura Shikan IV as) Matsuomaru, from the series Matches for the Kana Syllables (Mitate iroha awase)

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The complete series of 48 sheets plus title page: 11.40423 to 11.40471. The series title refers not just to the letters of the kana syllabary but to the firefighting brigades of Edo, which were organized into 48 groups to the west of the Sumida River, each designated by a single kana syllable...

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Kunichika hitsu (on main image); Manji Tachô hitsu (on title panel) 国周筆、万字田蝶筆


Censor's seal: Tiger 8 aratame Blockcutter's mark: Katada Hori Chô


By 1911, purchased by William Sturgis Bigelow (b. 1850–d. 1926), Boston [see note 1]; 1911, gift of Bigelow to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 19, 2005) NOTES: [1] Much of Bigelow's collection of Asian art was formed during his residence in Japan between 1882 and 1889, although he also made acquisitions in Europe and the United States. Bigelow deposited many of these objects at the MFA in 1890 before donating them to the Museum's collection at later dates.

Credit Line

William Sturgis Bigelow Collection

Japanese, Edo period, 1866 (Keiô 2), 8th month


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Medium or Technique

Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper