Toyohara Chikanobu, ‘Table of Contents’, 1897, Scholten Japanese Art

signed Yoshu Chikanobu with artist's seal Yoshu, publisher's information of Matsuki Heikichi and dated Meiji sanjunen kugatsu ichinichi (Meiji 30 [1897], September 1)

oban tate-e diptych 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.8 by 25.3 cm

Although the series name, Mirror of the Ages (Jidai kagami), uses the mirror as a metaphor for looking back on previous eras through history (with few actual mirrors found in the prints themselves), Chikanobu references the title quite literally with this table of contents. In the foreground on the right sheet beneath the preface, an ancient Chinese-style bronze mirror of lobed form, with a red silk cord threaded through a loop in the back and tied in a bow, rests at an angle among a scattering of combs and hairpins. It is propped up against a Japanese-style bronze mirror, the back of which is decorated with a flying crane. On the left sheet, the polished reflective side of another Chinese-style lobed mirror peeks out behind the square inset panel with the table of contents. In the foreground is a brocade wallet or pouch, with matching netsuke attached, holding a thick fold of personal tissues.

Series: Mirror of the Ages

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Matsuki Heikichi

Bruce A. Coats, Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints, 2006, pp. 186-187, plate 213
Tokyo Metropolitan Library, acquisition no. 4704-001, 4704-002

About Toyohara Chikanobu