Refined, the Appearance of a Court Lady of the Kyowa era

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Thirty-Two Aspects of Customs and Manners: Refined, the Appearance of a Court Lady of the Kyowa era [1801-1804]
(Fuzoku sanjuniso: hingayosaso kyowa nenkan kanjo no fuzoku)

signed Yoshitoshi ga, with artist's seal Taiso, carver's seal hori Yu, and publisher's date seal Meiji nijuichinen, shigatsu, jusanka (Meiji 21 [1888], April 13) of Tsunashima Kamekichi of Kinkido

oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 1/8 in., 37.7 by 25.7 cm

Of the thirty-two women presented in this series, only two represent women of the Imperial court. While this elegant kanjo (aristocratic woman) may exemplify the refined customs and manners of the nobility, their reserved and unchanging costumes left little room for exploration in ukiyo-e imagery. She wears a traditional ensemble of a court lady; each of the four layers of her white silk robes have a different karazuri (embossed) geometric motif to convey different patterns woven in the fabric. Her costume, hair, and itabokashi ('moth eyebrows') are all in the court style established in the Heian Period (794-1185), which was inspired by Tang Dynasty China (618-906). The only nod to Edo fashions of the Kyowa era in which she is placed is the hint of iridescent green sasabeni ('bamboo rouge') on her lower lip, an embellishment favored by courtesans and geisha which had just come into vogue at the end of the 18th century.

References:
Keyes 1983, p. 482, no. 503.15
Segi 1985, p. 92, no. 103.6
van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 139, no. 63.5
Stevenson 1995, no. 5
Akita Museum of Modern Art 1999, p. 46, no. 191
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2009, p. 11, no. 1.5

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