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Yoshu Chikanobu (aka Chikanobu), Japanese, (1838–1912)
Chiyoda Inner Palace: No. 3 Serving Spiced Rice Wine, 12/02/1895
Ink on paper
13 1/2 in. x 9 in. (34.3 cm x 22.8 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2003.1.2

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

Signed: “Yoshu Chikanobu”

Colored ink woodblock print on paper; oban tate-e.

Object Description
On the first morning of the new year, a special spiced wine (otosu) is drunk before breakfast and thought to bring good health throughout the coming year. Usually the youngest member of the family or group is served first, and in Chikanobu's print, a young woman raises a red lacquered wine cup to receive the invigorating brew from Inner Palace matron (joro toshiyori), while older women solemnly wait their turn in the background. The beverage is made by steeping overnight various flowers, herbs and roots in sweet rice wine (mirin). The two folding screens are painted with pine, bamboo, and plum branches (shochikubai), the traditional evergreens and early blossoms associated with the new year.

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

Fukuda Hatsujiro

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