Historic literature and folktales, typically the subjects of traditional theater, provided Yoshitoshi with rich resources particularly suited to the lyrical and melancholy mood of the Moon series. In his later years, Yoshitoshi’s life and art was greatly influenced by the aesthetics and chanting of the classical Noh, one of the most beautiful of Japanese literary forms. Noh developed out of several dance-drama forms such as folk dance and temple entertainments, infused with moral instruction. A Noh performance represents the essence of understatement and economy of gesture and movement - where one step can symbolize a complete journey.
In One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, Yoshitoshi recalls subjects from Indian and Chinese legends, heroes of classic novels, famous musicians and masters of haiku. In these prints, music and poetry seem to form the stage on which the characters perform. And, similar to the construct of a Noh play, the figures in the Moon series are rarely portrayed at the instant of a climactic deed, but rather the moment just preceding it or in poetic recollection of some event that has already taken place.
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