Courtesans Parading at New Year

Maker(s): Chobunsai Eishi (Hosoda)
Culture: Japanese (1756-1829)
Title: Courtesans Parading at New Year
Date Made: ca. 1795
Type: Print
Materials: Woodblock print (woodcut); Nishiki-e, Ink and color on paper
Place Made: Asia; Japan
Measurements: Mount: 22 in x 16 1/8 in; 55.9 cm x 41 cm
Accession Number: MH 1967.173.Q.RII
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Austin (Janet Evans, Class of 1925)

Chobunsai, in this print, depicts a courtesan and her attendants celebrating the coming of the New Year. In the left hand corner of the background you can see a table that is piled high with offerings of Kagami-Mochi or rice cakes, which are meant to evoke the sun goddess Amatersu and the rejuvenation of light and energy at the start of the New Year. In the foreground the five figures are arranged in a dynamic composition with the attendants circulating around the courtesan as if she were a star; her black kimono marks her as the central figure and provides color contrast. Both of the younger attendants are facing towards the courtesan with their heads tilted upwards to gaze at her. The gazes of the gazes of the two older attendants are focused on something outside of the print, paralleling the gaze and body position of the younger two as they are nearly opposite.

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