Series: The Meiji period (明治時代, Meiji-jidai)
Restoration: 1868 -1912
Category: Women Samurai
Accession Number: DFJN2020PRWS00021
Title (Original): 燃える城からの撤退をカバーする千代田宮殿の守護者、女性の薙刀戦士
Title: Moeru shiro kara no tettai o kabā suru Chiyoda kyūden no gādian, josei no naginata senshi
Translated Title: Women Naginata Warriors, Guardians of the Chiyoda Palace, Covering the Retreat from a Burning Castle (Fuji Arts)
Recorded as “Lady Firefighters - Otachinoki”, (Japanese Art Open Database, http://www.jaodb.com/db/ItemDetail.asp?item=32553)
Artist: Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912)
Medium: Japanese woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and colour on paper
Signature: Yoshu Chikanobu
Publisher: Fukuda Hatsujiro
Publication Date: 1892
Country of origin: Japan
Size: Vertical ōban. Triptych. 27 ½ x 14 (inches). 69.3 x 35.7cm
Condition: Excellent colour and detail. Three separate panels backed with paper.
Chiyoda Inner Palace:
First published from 1895-1897, Chikanobu’s “Chiyoda Inner Palace” (Chiyoda no Ooku) series depicts the lives of women in Edo Castle prior to the Meiji Restoration, when it was home to the shogun and his court. Edo Castle was also known as Chiyoda Castle, and the series includes 40 triptychs.
The Inner Palace area housed the shogun’s wife and unmarried daughters, his male heir, and many ladies-in-waiting and servants.
These lovely triptychs illustrate seasonal activities both inside and outside of the women’s private quarters, and a variety of ceremonies, rituals, and pastimes.
The beauties are elegantly attired as they go about their daily lives, with wonderful attention to detail given to their sumptuous kimono and obi fabrics. Many designs include deluxe printing techniques such as burnishing, embossing, and mica or metallic pigment. Chikanobu’s lovely “Chiyoda Inner Palace” series beautifully captures the world of upper-class women in mid-nineteenth century Japan.
Women Naginata Warriors, Guardians of the Chiyoda Palace, Covering the Retreat from a Burning Castle:
Fascinating triptych of the ladies of Chiyoda Palace guarding the palace grounds during a fire, with smoke and flames visible in the far left.
These women were responsible for assisting occupants of the palace during emergencies. They wear matching black kimono burnished with a subtle geometric pattern, and carrying naginata and lanterns. Lovely embossed detail on the white collars of the kimono and soft shading in the atmospheric background. A real knockout design and one of the more rarely seen images from the series. A striking subject.