Association of Women's Hair Stylists
with mica highlighting details on the kimonos on the right sheet; signed Oju Toyohara Kunichika hitsu with artist's Toshidama seal, and publisher's seal with date Meiji juhachi-nen (Meiji 18 ), hanmoto Ueki Rinnosuke (Ebiya Rinnosuke, Kaijudo), 1885
oban tate-e diptych 13 5/8 by 18 3/4 in., 34.6 by 47.5 cm
In an effort to slow the pace of the Westernization of Japanese women, in 1873 the government issued an edict that women were prohibited from cutting their hair short. Nevertheless, traditional Japanese women's hairstyles were increasingly regarded as an unnecessary burden- requiring expensive and time-consuming styling with oils and fillers that were difficult to take down to wash and comb out. Citing a desire for more practical, affordable, and hygienic options, in 1885 the Women's Chignon Society (Fujin Sokuhatsu Kai) was established. This print, published in the same year and bearing the name of the organization in the title cartouche, provides a helpful 'how to' guide for ladies seeking to learn out to style their hair in Western hairstyles, including the chignon, the coil, the braid and the pompadour.
This diptych by Kunichika appears to be the uncredited source for a condensed version of this composition which was also published in 1885 by Yokoyama Ryohachi (active ca. 1883-1895) as a single-sheet print.
Rebecca Copeland, Fashioning the Feminine Images of the Modern Girl Student in Meiji Japan, 2006
Nobutaka Imamura, ed., Ukiyo-e (Kunichika), Kyoto University of Art & Design, March 2018, p. 53, no. 512
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (art.famsf.org), accession no. 2003.19a-b
(inv. no. 10-5595)
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