Eight Favorite Things in the Modern World: Theater
(Tosei kobutsu hakkei: Shibai)
a beauty holding a battledore and shuttlecock, at the upper left is a folded kabuki program, the multi-colored cover decorated with a crest, beneath it is a narrow white folded flyer titled Shin-yakusha-zuke ('New Actors'); signed Keisai Eisen ga with artist's seal Sen, published by Izumiya Ichibei of Kansendo, ca. 1823
oban tate-e 15 3/8 by 10 1/2 in., 39.1 by 26.7 cm
The hairstyle and colorful attire of this beauty identify her as adolescent, and her well-appointed ensemble suggests she is either the daughter of a family with means, or a shinzo (teenage apprentice courtesan). She wears iridescent green sasabeni ('bamboo rouge' derived from safflower), a trendy but expensive embellishment for a young lady. Her kimono is decorated with a light blue and lavender pattern of kanzemizu (swirling water), the collar dark green with an asupicioius motif white kame (turtles, symbolizing longevity). Her inner robe is beni-dyed with flowers and zigzaging matsukawa-bishi (lit. 'pine bark diamond'). The young beauty coyly holds a shuttlecock near her chin and angles a battledore paddle to rest on her shoulder for use in a game (similar to badminton) that was traditionally played at the New Year.
The kabuki materials at the upper left corner relate to theater advertisements which would have been released a few months earlier. The crest decorating the folded program is probably that of the Nakamura Theater, one of the major theaters in Edo. It rests on a folded playbill which would have been published by the theater shortly before the Kaomise, the annual eleventh-month production featuring the actors, playwrights and musicians of the company engaged for the upcoming season.
Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum of Art, 2012, pp. 68-69 (series)
(inv. no. 10-0285)
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.
site last updated
October 3, 2022
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...