A Gwailo's View of Han Zi !
A Blog featuring my experiments with Han Zi and digital typographic art and articles on Chinese derived characters. Also some articles on Chinese characters in general and their use of multiple Asian languages.
#chikanobu was according of what little I have found about him a #samurai of rank high enought to have had some art training in the traditional Kano style which I explains a lot about his fondness for Background gradients. However due to his involvement in rebellions against the backlash against the #meiji regime he was probably the only #ukiyo-e artist I know of who was both originally of samurai rank and may have fought or seen actual cavalry battles or at least one of the last of them
This #print is from his #talesoftheheike series
Chikanobu is one of the few artists to depict a volley of arrows and how armour to deflect arrows or hinder them from reaching flesh and the detail ...a sandal thats come loose ...men who've lost their helmets raising their arms to shield their faces ... surely this is an image by someone whos actually been on a battle field and isnt just copying a kabuki pose !
Princess Takiyasha-hime is a legend that appears in kagura and kabuki.
She was the one surviving daughter of Taira no Masakado who rebelled against the Kyoto government and tried to become Emperor in 939. You may have seen the print by Kuniyoshi with the giant skeleton? I think I like Chikanobu's less dramatic but still spooky version.
She is wearing the ritual robes of an onmyoji a practitioner of Onmyodo also known as inyodo or Onyodo a strange uniquely Japanese fusion of Taosim and Shinto ritual practices and sometimes magic. Most Onmyoji were diviners or astrologers or experts on rituals or feng shui and other things.
The story claims Takiyasha-hime originally called Satsuki had taken refuge as a nun at Mount Tsukuba and was either given a scroll or tutored by a wizard called Nikushisen on the art of frog magic?
Whether she was actually a magical practitioner or just a deluded refugee she seems to have tried to start another rebellion. Given she came from the Kanto area perhaps her giant toad steed was actually a horse or pony prone to kicking and jumping nicknamed Toad and her frogs and yokai army rebellious locals ... whatever her story inspired this print!
Though admittedly you probably have to be familiar with Heian and Edo period costume to see just how spooky and eerie the use of pale yellows and loosely flowing hair in an almost masculine style are !
Really Chikanobu's compositions deserve more praise and attention.
I suspect his print works including what could be seen as proMeiji propaganda may have lead to him becoming half forgotten. Compare his works to later Shin Hanga masters. I also suspect his use of gradients influenced them?
Back to something more "technozi" next time. A few years back I posted on color adjectives.
I'll be posting about words for blue in Chinese and other languages soon!
Todays #chikanobu #print features a #dragon and a #princess.
I don't know if Chikanobu give the colorist notes or showed him his color sketches but the color balance is wonderful and notice how the red dots are echoed on the robe and the light blues complement the grays and whites of the dragon and background.
Hashimoto Naoyoshi also knwon as Yoshitsuru Yooshuu and Toyohara Chikanobu unlike some better known ukiyo-e artists was an actual samurai who had fought in battles and was involved in the final rebellions against the Meiji Regime.
As part of his education as well as military training he had studied Kano style and techniques.
He moved to Tokyo and became an ukiyo-e print artist / designer in his middle years studying the styles of Eisen Kuniyoshi and Kunisada.
There is a certain element of nostalgia in this and possibly of fantasy.
Its quite possible Chikanobu would have seen female relatives practising with naginata but whether they wore such colorful kimono with purple dye that bright ... Bijin were one of his themes but he was noted for battle scenes too. He did a whole series of prints illustrating a lifestyle that was disappearing during his life time. More next time.