Enjoying Herself, The Appearance of a Teacher of the Kaei Era

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Thirty-Two Aspects of Customs and Manners: Enjoying Herself, The Appearance of a Teacher of the Kaei Era [1848-1854]
(Fuzoku sanjuniso: tanoshindeiso kaei nenkan shisho no fuzoku)

signed Yoshitoshi ga, with artist's seal Taiso, carver's seal Wada to, and publisher's date and address seal Meiji nijuichinen, juichigatsu, sanka; Tokyo Nihonbashi Bakurocho Nichome 14-banchi, Tsunajima Kamekichi (Meiji 21 [1888], November 3) of Tsujiokaya Kamekichi of Kinkido

oban tate-e 14 3/4 by 10 1/8 in., 37.5 by 25.7 cm

The expectation placed on courtesans and geisha to stimulate their clients required extensive tutoring in the arts. The most successful were charming, exceptionally literate, skilled calligraphers, and often talented musicians. A music teacher thus played a formative role in their training, and in many ways held the keys for professional advancements. Students would often be girls or women who, though sold to a pleasure house, were too young or not yet ready to serve clients. Music lessons were just one of many preparations they would need before becoming geisha in their own right. Though likely a former geisha herself, the teacher depicted was an independent woman, free from the rigors of life in the pleasure quarters and the many burdens incumbent therein.

References:
Keyes 1983, p. 483, no. 503.27
Segi 1985, p. 93, no. 103.19
van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 140, no. 63.20
Stevenson 1995, no. 20
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2009, p. 14, no. 1.20

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