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Arranging her hair (kamiyui - 髪結い) from the series Fitting Acomplishments for Women (Fujin tashinami-gusa - 婦人たしなみ草)

Identifier: 1830s Kunisada combing hair
Description:

At the woman's feet is a large paper laid out on which lie the various items needed to make up her hair. These include a scissors, various combs, a lidded contain which may hold a powder or some other contents meant to treat the hair and even a brush for its application. There is also a coil of motoyui (元結) (aka mizuhiki - 水引) cords, most often made of remarkably strong, twisted paper, for tying off the hair into a highly stylized and attractive coiffure. (JSV)

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There are at least two editions of this print. It is easy to see why it was so marketable at the time it was designed. If you compare this example in the Lyon Collection to the other examples at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Ashmolean at Oxford and Ritsumeikan University you will see that this print is different than those three. Most obvious is the treatment at the top of the print near the inscription. The example here has a multi-colored cartouche while the other three have a solid red one. Schaap also notes this aspect of the printings. Then compare the robes and loose obi, which differ considerably. Even the paper laid out on the ground in the lower right is different. In the other three examples cited it is a solid green color - even though the example at the Ritsumeikan is shown only in black and white - while the one in the Lyon Collection remains uncolored. Comparisons of this sort are very helpful in the connoisseurship of Japanese woodblock prints. (JSV)

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Part of one of the editions of this print was used for the cover of a book published in Russian on a Japanese poet, Yosano Akiko (與謝野晶子: 1878-1942). The loose translation of the title of this book is Mat of Hair.

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