Chikanobu Yoshu, Flower of the East, Palace Evacuation, Firemen
Artist: Chikanobu Yoshu (1838 - 1912)
Title: Flower of the East
Publisher: Egawa Yachizaemon
Size: (L) 36.4 x 24.8 (C) 36.4 x 24.9 (R) 36.5 x 24.7 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
Even though Chikanobu’s prints showcase a variety of subjects, due to the wealth of his beauties and court ladies works, it is believed that the customs and events of the imperial family were his favourite subject.
This print shows a palace evacuation during a fire. Court ladies are seen on the right, carrying naginata (long bladed swords), the symbolic weapon of samurai women who trained for self-defence, defence of their children, and for building virtue. The left-hand side shows a group of firemen carrying matoi and rushing to tackle the conflagration. The matoi was a type of flag identifying particular groups of firefighters and they would be put up by the first brigade to respond to a fire outbreak. It signalled other brigades and called them for assistance and was also a way of staking a claim on having saved a property to be able to collect a reward for that later.
Fire brigades were among the groups most likely to have tattoos. They favoured dragon designs, believed to be water creatures who controlled the weather with the hope that dragons would protect them on the job and send rain to extinguish the fires. They also wore padded coats that were soaked in water to make them as fire resistant as possible. Often these garments were beautifully decorated on the lining with designs very similar to popular tattoo patterns.
|Artist Name||Chikanobu Yoshu|
|Title||Flower of the East|
|Subject||Beauty & Female, Samurai & Male, Male & Female, Tattoo|
|Dimensions||(L) 36.4 x 24.8 (C) 36.4 x 24.9 (R) 36.5 x 24.7 cm|
|Condition Report||Wear and soiling, creases, light tears and pinholes, partly colour oxidised, tears restored on the top of the right panel and on the left bottom corner of the centre panel.|
Born into the Hashimoto samurai family in the Echigo province, Chikanobu became one of the final, great, traditional ukiyo-e artists of the Meiji era, fighting to preserve the traditional culture of Japan. Even so, the modernisation brought about by Western values and technologies can be seen in his work. As a result, he develops a distinctive personal style blending a close adherence to the traditional technique of ukiyo-e, and occasional western imagery. Chikanobu’s early work includes the series ‘From the Famous Places of Edo’, as well as war prints based on the Kagoshima uprising in 1877. He also designed prints rooted in traditional myths and legends. Even though Chikanobu’s prints showcase a variety of subjects, due to the wealth of his beauties and court ladies works, it is believed that the customs and events of the imperial family were his favourite subject. Out of these prints, the most well-known series is probably ‘Court Ladies of the Chiyoda Place’ (‘Chiyoda no O-oku’), which depicts the court life in the palace of the Tokugawa shogunate. This series, like many of Chikanobu’s artworks, is a series of triptychs. Another famous series by this artist is titled ‘True Beauties’ (‘Shin Bijin’) that showcases Japanese ladies in traditional kimono. Influenced by the rapid changes happening in Japanese society following the Meiji restoration, Chikanobu also produced beauty prints showing ladies in Western clothing, as opposed to kimono.