Chiyoda Inner Palace: No. 8 First Horse Day, 02/06/1896
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.
Actors gather outside the main hall of the Ooku residential area to give a special performance for the new year on the first "horse day" of the 2nd month (according to the zodiac calendar). One actor carries a hunting bird while another actor is dressed as a woman (onnagata) in the role of "Wisteria Maiden" (Fuji musume). The actor carrying the bell portrays Musashi-bo Benkei, a popular historical character of the 12th century wearing a monk-warrior's costume decorated with "wheels of the Buddhist law" (rinbo). In front of him is a red-faced demon that has been quelled by the character Aotake Goro, carrying a giant arrow.
For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.
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