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Edo Pop Pick: Courtesan with Attendants on Parade

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

In celebration of our newest show, Edo Pop, each week, we are giving you a taste of the sensuality, fashion, and decadent entertainment of young urban sophisticates of Japan’s pre-modern era. If you haven’t experienced Edo Pop yet (or even if you already have), stop on by the MIA!  Read more about the exhibition here.

We encourage you to seize all opportunities to show off your good looks, too.

Suzuki Harunobu, 1724/25–70, Courtesan with Attendants on Parade, ca. 1766. Color woodblock print (nishiki-e).

Within the rarefied world of the Yoshiwara, Edo’s licensed pleasure quarter, the most celebrated courtesans were beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest patrons. Nevertheless, ordinary visitors could view the reigning beauties during their frequent promenades. When venturing into public, a high-ranking courtesan (oiran) was accompanied by a retinue of attendants, including one or two kamuro (female apprentices), a wakaimono (male servant), and one or two shinzø (lower-ranking prostitutes). The somewhat static quality of this print may be Harunobu’s attempt to convey the slow, stylized “figure-eight” gait of the oiran. Such a spectacle, moving slowly through the streets and attracting throngs of onlookers, was an effective means of advertising the great beauties of the Yoshiwara.

Read more about this print!

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