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Courtesans with Koto and Shakuhachi

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Chikanobu Yoshu, Japanese, (1838–1912)
Courtesans with Koto and Shakuhachi, March 3, 1883
Ink on Paper
12 7/8 in. x 8 1/2 in. (32.7 cm x 21.59 cm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2004.1.37


Alternate Title: Meiyo iro no sakiwake
Full Title: Blossoming of Glorious Colors: Courtesans with Koto and Shakuhachi

Edition
Excellent impression, embossed.

Marks
Signed yoshu Chikanobu hitsu. Seal: toshidama.

Medium
Colored ink and mica on paper; oban tate-e.

Object Description
This print is the 16th print in Chikanobu's series "Praise for Multicolored Blossoms" (Meiyo iro no sakiwake), which depicted the Shin Yoshiwara, the government licensed pleasure quarters. Ariwara of the Shinagawaro strums her koto and Kou of the Nakanocho holds a shamisen. Ariwara's outer robe has a depiction of the poet and courtier Ariwara no Narihira (825-880) riding a horse near Mt. Fuji and the pines of Miho. Narihira was renowned for his verses about these two famous sites (meisho), so any viewer of the courtesan's costume would have understood the pictorial allusion to her name. The two musicians sit in a carpeted room with a verandah that opens onto a pond garden, rendered in a way that is reminiscent of Utagawa Hiroshige's (1797-1858) landscapes. The inset panel shows an actor leaning forward, as if looking at Ariwara playing the koto. He wears the distinctive costume of the evil character Iwanaga Saemon Munetsura, in the Koto Torture Scene (Kotozeme no dan) of the Kabuki play Chronicles of the Dan-no-ura Helmet (Dan-no-ura kabuto gunki, see 2003.1.53).

For more information, please reference the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.

Provenance
Purchased by Bruce Coats from Artelino in Germany using Aoki funds.

Publisher
Hashimoto Shinzo

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