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Chiyoda Inner Palace: No. 31 Halberd Practice

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Chikanobu Yoshu, Japanese, (1838–1912)
Chiyoda Inner Palace: No. 31 Halberd Practice, 4/27/1896
Ink on Paper
13 15/16 in. x 27 13/16 in. (35.4 cm x 70.64 cm)

Object Type: print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2003.1.35

Alternate Title: Chiyoda no Ooku: Naginata keiko

Yoshu Chikanobu's "Chiyoda Inner Palace" series of woodblock printed triptychs was first published from 1895-1897. It depicts the lives of women in Edo Castle before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the palace was home to the shogun and his court. Edo Castle was also known as Chiyoda Castle, and the Inner Palace area housed the shogun's wife and unmarried daughters, his male heir, and many ladies-in-waiting and servants. After 1868, the shogun's family were forced out of the palace and it became the Imperial Palace. This series of 40 scenes illustrate seasonal activities, ceremonies, rituals, and pastimes both inside and outside of the women's private quarters.

Meher McArthur, Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Curator of Academic Programs and Collections

Fine impressions with gauffrage.

Signed: “Yoshu Chikanobu” with red toshidama seal

Colored ink woodblock print on off-white paper (oban triptych).

Object Description
Martial arts was certainly expected of the men in samurai families, but women drawn from those families to the shogun's Inner Palace would also be familiar with handling weapons. During the Edo Period, use of the halberd (naginata) was particularly associated with samurai women, used for self-defense and physical fitness training. The light-weight wooden shaft, about 6-8 feet (2-3 shaku) was surmounted by a steel blade, although a wooden blade could be substituted for practice purposes, just as wooden swords (bokken, shown here) were used for training by men and women.

For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.

Fukuda Hatsujiro

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