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A Celebration of Gallantry

This series of 7 prints was published in 1865 by Daikin. Each print shows a leading actor as a tattooed fireman. Firemen were popular figures, and their heroics and appearance lent themselves to depiction in prints. They wore tattoos partly to demonstrate their indifference to pain; they wore patterned quilted robes, which they reversed to the plain side when fighting fires; and they carried huge geometric standards (matoi) to identify their brigade and to signal above the flames. This set is a variation on the popular genre of actor portraits, with the patterns on the robes deriving from the actor’s personal identifying crest (mon).

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