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Battles of Coxinga


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A: Chikamatsu Monzaemon Pf: 1715, Osaka Tr: 1961 G: Hist. drama for puppets in 5 acts (12 scenes); later kabuki play in 4 scenes; Japanese verse S: China and Japan, 17th c. C: 16m, 4f, extrasWatønai (the Japanese name for the historical figure of Tei Seikø) is a young warrior who accompanies his Chinese father Tei Shiryū and his Japanese mother to China, in order to fight against the Tartar invaders from Manchuria and restore the Ming Dynasty. Tei Shiryū seeks help from his son-in-law Kanki, a Chinese general, who has however pledged loyalty to the new Tartar rulers and cannot break his oath for the sake of his wife's relatives. His wife nobly commits suicide in order to allow Kanki to act freely and in the interest of his nation. Kanki honours Watønai with the name ‘Kokusenya’ (Coxinga), accorded to those who offer outstanding service to the Emperor. Watønai with his father and Kanki fight a great battle and succeed in repelling the Tartar usurpers.

A: Chikamatsu Monzaemon Pf: 1715, Osaka Tr: 1961 G: Hist. drama for puppets in 5 acts (12 scenes); later kabuki play in 4 scenes; Japanese verse S: China and Japan, 17th c. C: 16m, 4f, extras

Originally written as a puppet play, The Battles of Coxinga, one of the popular historical dramas (jidaimono), proved the most popular of Chikamatsu's works and is generally accounted one of his best. When it was shortened and adapted for performance as a kabuki play, it provided a great opportunity for the larger-than-life style of acting (aragato) so beloved by kabuki audiences. The play offered patriotic fervour, noble self-sacrifice, and exotic Chinese locations, and ended with a spectacular battle scene. While Chikamatsu's domestic dramas now tend to be more accessible and popular, The Battles of Coxinga continues to be revived.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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