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Paul Binnie, Scottish, b. 1967
Flowers of a Hundred Years: Maroon Hakama
(Hyakunen no Hana: Senkyuhakujuunen no Ebicha Hakama)
the series title Hyakunen no Hana and print title Senkyuhakujuunen no Ebicha Hakama in karazuri ('blind-printing') on upper left margin and Binnie on the bottom margin, signed in kanji, Bin-ni at upper left followed by red artist's seal Binnie, numbered and signed in pencil on the bottom margin, 30/100, Paul Binnie, November 2012
dai oban tate-e 18 5/8 by 13 1/8 in., 47.3 by 33.2 cm
This print is the second design in Binnie's bijin (beautiful women) series, Hyakunen no Hana (Flowers of a Hundred Years), which highlights the changing roles, political issues, social situations and lifestyles of women in Japan in the 20th century, decade by decade.
This circa 1910 beauty is identified by her ebicha hakama ('maroon hakama'), a trouser-like over-kimono which was associated with female university students of the era. Women's universities were founded only in the previous decade, such as the Japan Women's College (now University) in 1901 in Tokyo. By 1910 it was becoming socially acceptable for women to pursue a university education before marriage. The distinctive maroon hakama worn by the students became a symbol of female education; so much so that the wife of the artist Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878-1972), Tsuzuri Teru (a well-known intellectual in her own right), was kept distant from the artist's mother who declared she 'did not like maroon hakama'- apparently casting derision on the wearer as well.
The print production is very lavish, with 47 printings, including silver metallic pigment and 23 carat gold leaf in the hair ribbon motif of laurels symbolizing academic achievement, and fine mica mixed in the maroon pigment of the hakama to give a dull luster rather than the typical glitter in order to suggest the practical heavy wool fabric.