Chiyoda Inner Palace: No. 5 Parading Pounded Rice Cakes, 12/02/1895
Ink on Paper
13 7/8 in. x 28 1/16 in. (35.3 cm x 71.3 cm)
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; triptych.
On the 7th day of the new year, the shogun presented the Inner Palace with large cakes of pounded rice / mochi. Making and eating mochi is still a popular new year's celebration, with small mochi cakes in a vegetable stew (ozoni) being a popular first breakfast of the new year season. Mochi cakes can be lightly toasted over a brazier, where they puff up into a crisp pillow-like form. Larger mochi cakes are offered to the deities, and in this print enormous mochi cake-like forms are being paraded through the palace as part of a celebration. One dancer at left carries a wooden pestle used in pounding the cooked rice; he also wears a long nosed mask on his head. Nearby another dancer has tied to his head a wooden tray with a broiled spiney lobster (Ise ebi), another of the traditional new year's foods.
For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.
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