Toyohara Chikanobu (1838 – 1912) Jidai kagami (A Mirror of the Ages) The Tenwa Era
This blog has been dormant for a while because of other commitments at the gallery. We are relaunching it this week to coincide with a new show at the gallery. The blog has been immensely popular in the past and we are grateful for the huge support and interesting emails we have had over the last few years.
The blog acts as a back up to the catalogue which accompanies the exhibitions at the Toshidama Gallery. We are passionate about Japanese prints and as well as selling them, the Toshidama Gallery has produced hundreds of thousands of words, educating and informing people about every aspect of ukiyo-e life and culture. As a way of marking the new blog posts ‘season’, we are publishing a short post each day about the background to some small aspect of each of the 24 prints in the current show. I hope that you enjoy the next few weeks minor facts!
The Tenwa Period of Japanese History, (1680-1684). Commemorated in the Chikanobu print that opens the show, this was a short-lived period in Japanese history that saw one of the truly terrible famines that hit Japan frequently in the seventeenth century. The worst by far was the famine of 1680 which continued into the Tenwa period. The photograph below shows the gigantic cooking pot at Sofukuji Temple, cast in 1680 in order to feed the 3,000 starving people that turned up to be fed at the Buddhist shrine every day. The shrine and the temple are tourist attractions near Nagasaki and the giant cauldron exists to this day. There’s no sign of famine though in Chikanobu’s ‘fashion plate’ nor in the figures tumbling in the cartouche at the top of the print