Geisha and kikyo flowers (Standing Woman)

Title:  Geisha and kikyo flowers (Standing Woman)
Creator: Utagawa Toyokuni
Date: 1830-36
Location: Connecticut College, Caroline Black Collection of Japanese Woodcuts
Culture: Japanese
Medium: Color Woodcut

Description: This colored woodblock prints depicts a woman in highly decorated traditional Japanese dress standing among large flowers. The print is not done in multiple colors as many prints usually are, but instead a deep pthalo blue with slight shade and tint variation. The ink looks to be applied not very evenly when looking at the bat in the upper left hand corner and some blur among the flowers. The blur could be due to age or water. The ink has faded as well which can make some of the finer lines of print hard to distinguish. The woman is a geisha which is evident from her elaborate hairstyle, large wooden sandals. and heavy dress. The kikyo flowers which are usually a purple five petal plant fan out behind her and frame her very beautifully. The word kikyo can mean whimsical, odd or eccentric which suits the theme of this print very well. A very interesting aspect of this print is the stamp in the left corner with the Japanese calligraphy. Usually writing on a print is contained within a box or circle and are simply done up and down. To have an animal is unusual and adds another element to the work. Should we assume the bat is a part of this scene? Or should we just accept it as the stamp? If the bat is a part of the scene what significance does it hold? It seems that the bat is a symbol of luck in Japan.


Author: Claire Fadness

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