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千代田の大奥 [明治27~29(1894~1896)年 楊州周延]

江戸城、別名「千代田城」の大奥の、年中行事やそこで暮らす女性たちの姿を描いた大判三枚続きの錦絵シリーズ

 江戸城、別名「千代田城」の大奥の、年中行事やそこで暮らす女性たちの姿を描いた大判三枚続きの錦絵シリーズ。作者は、歴史絵や美人絵で人気の浮世絵師、楊州周延。東京日本橋の絵草子屋・具足屋から、明治27年から29年にかけて発行されました。

 四季折々の歳時や優雅な遊びのさまが、豪華な衣装、調度品とともに美しく描かれている。大河ドラマ「篤姫」の舞台にもなった江戸城大奥は、将軍の御台所や側室たち、1000人ともいわれる女中たちが暮らしていました。中の様子を他言することは禁じられていたため、当時は秘密のベールに包まれた存在。明治になると、もと奥女中たちの証言をもとに、大奥を題材とした錦絵が作られ、庶民の人気を博したのです。

 こうした錦絵をもてやはした明治の人々は何を思ったのでしょうか。かつての栄華を極めた大奥を覗き見たい、という好奇心でしょうか。それとも過ぎ去った徳川の世へのノスタルジーでしょうか。

千代田の大奥

四季折々の歳時や優雅な遊びのさまが、豪華な衣装、調度品とともに美しく描かれている

The Chiyoda Inner Palace
27th~29th year of Meiji (1894~1896)
Illustrator: Yoshu Chikanobu

This color illustration is entitled “The Chiyoda Inner Palace.” This series of triptychs (three panel color woodblock prints) depicts the annual festivals and events that took place in and women who lived in the Edo palace, also known as the Chiyoda Palace. The artist, Yoshu Chikanobu, was a popular ukiyo-e artist well known for his historical illustrations as well as illustrations of beautiful women, etc. This series was produced between the 27th~29th year of Meiji (1894~1896) by the art dealer Gusoku-ya, located in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo.

This scene is the kagami mochi-tugging that takes place on the 7th day of the 1st lunar month. The women of the Inner Palace watch as huge mochi are placed in a boat and tugged while men in festive dress cheer from the sides.

This scene is a poetry contest. The garments of the women of the highest rank in the Inner Palace are drawn using vivid imported colors; including carmine red, deep purple, and rose pink. Even in places that seem to be plain white paper, patterns were pressed into the paper leaving delicate embossed designs. This technique is called “kara-zuri” which literally means “empty printing.”

The Taiga TV Drama, Atsuhime, which was produced several years ago, was set in the Inner Palace of the Edo palace where the Shogun’s principle wife, concubines, and more than 1,000 women were said to live. During the Edo period itself, the Inner Palace was hidden behind a veil of secrecy and no one was allowed to depict anything they saw or heard inside. However, in the Meiji period, after the fall of the shogun, many color illustrations were based on the testimony of women who had formerly worked and lived in the Inner palace and these illustrations became tremendously popular with common people.

What were the common people who enthusiastically collected these color illustrations thinking? Perhaps it was curiosity that spurred them to peak into the glory that was the Inner Palace. Or perhaps it was nostalgia for the vanished age of the Tokugawa Shoguns.