Chikanobu, Events Outside the Chiyoda Castle - Catching Cranes

Toyohara Chikanobu (1838 - 1912)  Catching Cranes from Chiyoda no-on omote (Events Outside the Chiyoda Castle) 1898. Oban Triptych.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

This pristine print by Chikanobu is quite superb. The print adopts some of the incoming realism of the west whilst portraying traditional events around the precincts of the Chiyoda Castle in Tokyo.

In the foreground we see a crane, wrestled to the ground by the joint efforts of a man and a hunting bird. In the background a magnificent vista of Mount Fuji and the wetlands that used to surround the castle. Chikanobu produced this series as a companion to his well known Scenes Within the Chiyoda Inner Palace (Chiyoda no Ooku). The Chiyoda Palace in Tokyo became the home of the Meiji Emperor after the 1868 revolution and for traditionalists such as Chikanobu, a symbol of old Japan. The Red-Crowned Crane had the same status in nineteenth century Japan as the swan does in England - only the nobility were allowed to hunt and consume it. The red crowned crane has become an endangered species since those rules were relaxed.

Chikanobu shows us a noble hunt in the grounds of the palace. There is great delicacy in the landscape and the depiction of the natural world and a poetry to the two escaping birds in the left hand sheet. There is an irony (probably unintentional) that the crane was a symbol of eternity, being thought of as living to over one thousand years. The quality of the printing is exceptional as is the condition and colour of the piece. It is unfaded, an early edition and with no damage. A fine print.

Signed Yoshu Chikanobu, published by Fukuda Hatsojiro.

14” x 10”