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The Courtesan Hanazome of the Ogiya reading a letter and grinding ink

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The Courtesan Hanazome of the Ogiya reading a letter and grinding ink

Kikugawa Eizan, Japanese, (active 1787–1867)

Creation date: ca. 1810-1815
Creation place: Japan

Other Information

Type: Woodblock
Medium and Support: Woodblock on paper
Credit Line: Bequest of Mrs. Cora Timken Burnett
Accession Number: 1957.155
Dimensions: 15 1/16 in. x 10 1/8 in. (38.26 cm x 25.72 cm)
Third of a five-sheet composition


Robert Leicester Harmsworth, London, England ( - October 19, 1939)

J.C. Morgenthau & Co., Inc., New York, New York (October 19, 1939 - October 19, 1939)

Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, New Jresey (October 19, 1939 - 1957)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (1957 - )

Label Copy

These five oiran—a term that refers to the most elite rank of prostitute—were famous in their day, not only because of their elegance and sophistication, but also because the owner of their brothel was a well-known, influential personality about town. Their brothel’s name was Ogiya, which means “Fan House.” These oiran were like celebrity fashion models, and the people of Edo admired their stylish way of wearing their hair and kimono. They also admired them for being able to read, to write using excellent calligraphy, and to be conversant in poetry and literature. Each courtesan is named on the prints. At the left, holding a book, is Hanado. Next, Tamino adjusts a hairpin, and in the center Hanazome grinds ink and clutches a calligraphy brush in her teeth for writing on the scroll she holds in her left hand. Hashidate looks over to the courtesan Takihashi in the print on the right, who holds a long tobacco pipe. Each woman’s sumptuous kimono is secured by an obi that is tied in front, as is customary for prostitutes of all rank.
Last Updated: 8/6/2013


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Japanese Colour-Prints Victoria and Albert Museum , 11/1/1913 - 3/31/1914

Dreams and Diversions: 250 Years of Japanese Prints from the San Diego Museum of San Diego Museum of Art , 11/6/2010 - 6/5/2011


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Illustrated Catalogue, including Part 2: J. C. Morgenthau & Co., Inc.. New York, New York, October 19, 1939
Page Number: 34 lot no. 173

Japanese Colour-Prints lent by R. Leicester Harmsworth, Esq., M.P. Victoria and Albert Museum. London, England, 1913
Page Number: 37 cat. no. 273

Andreas Marks and Dr. Sonya Quintanilla. Dreams and Diversions University of Washington Press. Seattle, WA, 2010
Page Number: 68, Figure Number: 46 B

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