Kiyochika: Women Warriors (Sold)

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Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)
Title: Women Warriors
Series: Kagoshima Newspaper: Biography of Personalities (Kagoshima Shimbun meimei-den)
Date: 1877

The woman in kimono is Tamae, wife of Kodama Hachinoshin: the young woman in western clothing is Kunime, daughter of Shinohara Kunimoto. Both Kodama and Shinohara fought as members of the Satsuma troops. The seated Tamae tied her legs and holds a knife in her left hand. Her writing set lies in front of her for her letter to her parents. She is ready to commit seppuku. She wears kimono with Camellia (japonica),  single petaled flowers, which blooms from February to May. The camellia became popular in 17th century Edo and decorated the gardens of samurai residence and temples. However during the end of Edo and in the Meiji the camellia was considered an ill omen because the flower of camellia drops as if the head of beheading drops. Young Kunime looks on to Tamae. She holds a shinai, bamboo sword and white head-band as if she is ready to join the young the Satsuma rebels.

The branches of camellia and cherry blossom symbolize these two women, red camellia as natural virtue, cherry blossom as youth and hope of the time. The depiction suggests the situation of the Meiji Restoration, the transition from the Tokugawa feudal system to modernizing Japan.

     The text informs: Kodama Tamae, wife of a member of the Saigó’s rebels, Kodama Hachinoshin was known as a beautiful and virtuous woman. She had prayed for a victory of her husband. When she heard his husband’s death at the battle of Yamaga-guchi in Kumamoto Pref. she wrote a letter to her parents and committed suicide. On the other hand when Kunime, a daughter of Shinohara Kunimoto, heard the death of her father she at the age of 16  headed to the headquarters of the rebels so that she can contribute to kill even one more enemy in order to carry out her father’s mission. It is said that she joined an elite troop and went to the front at Mt. Hanaoka.  

This scarce series consists of special issues of the Kagoshima Newspaper, creating visual biographies of figures related to the Satsuma Rebellion (Sei-nan sensó) in 1877, the last domestic rebellion against the New Meiji Government, which took place in Kyúshú, in present Kagoshima, Kumamoto, and Miyazaki Prefectures.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: ôban
Publisher: Takegawa Kiyochikichi
Seal: Artist’s seals
Signature: Kiyochika