Dancer as Sagimusume (Spirit of Heron)

Detailed View (Dancer’s face)

Title: Dancer as Sagimusume

Artist: Kokyo (Taniguchi)

Date: 1900s

Culture: Meiji Era

Repository: Print collection, Art History Department, Cummings Arts Center, Connecticut College

Size: 39 x 25 cm

Material/Medium: color woodcut; print

DVC: The art portrays a dancer, possibly a young Geisha, dressed in white against a dark, gradient background holding an umbrella. The dancer’s body is entirely shrouded by her dress while her face stays hidden behind her dark umbrella and under her dress’s veil. Her eyes — existing as the only visible portion of her face — gaze shyly towards the inside of the umbrella while revealing her facial makeup and styled hair. The dancer’s dress features the remaining details, including the light blue dress interior, the dark sash with patterns of yellow and blue, and the many layers of the dress itself.

Analysis: This artwork shares several similarities with other general features of Japanese paintings, yet has innate qualities that define the work as unique. Just like Dancer as Sagimusume, hundreds of other Japanese artworks feature Geisha — performance artists and entertainers who still exist today. In addition, the Geisha depicted here shares the same general qualities of Geisha in other artwork, namely the white and pink face makeup, the long, layered dress, the brushed-back/bun hair style, and holding an umbrella. However, Dancer as Sagimusume differs from other Japanese artwork by offering no background scene or setting, instead focusing all of the viewer’s attention on the Geisha. Moreover, Kokyo’s work diverges from other depictions of Geisha through using realistic detail and little color; the unique use of detail combined with primarily using black and white colors both separates Dancer as Sagimusume from other artworks while also forcing all attention on the Geisha (her dress/face in particular).


Connecticut College Japanese Prints Collections inventory

Connecticut College

Author: Zach McCrystal

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