Imported Silk Reeling Machine at Tsukiji in Tokyo
Utagawa Yoshitora (Japanese, active ca. 1850–80)
Meiji period (1868–1912)
4th month, 1872
Triptych of polychrome woodblock prints; ink and color on paper
Image: 14 1/2 x 28 3/4 in. (36.8 x 73 cm)
Gift of Lincoln Kirstein, 1959
Not on view
Casper Müller, a Swiss expert based in Yokohama, was employed by the prestigious and financially successful Ono Silk Filature Company to build a modern silk reeling factory in Tokyo. Yoshitora’s complex triptych serves as a precious record of its activities.
The young female workers first empty baskets of cocoons into vats of steaming water, and then locate the thread ends from several cocoons in order to reel them onto a spinning frame.
Signature: Mōsai Yoshitora ga (a signature used only after 1874)