active ca. 1883-1895
Improved Chignon Styles for Women
(Fujin sokuhatsu kairyo zu)
dated on the left margin, Meiji juhachinen kyugatsu -ka (Meiji 18 , September) followed by gako ken shuppanjin (artist and publisher) Yokoyama Ryohachi, ca. 1885
oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 1/8 in., 37.8 by 25.6 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, released in the same year, supports their efforts by providing 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.
Perhaps because it was still controversial in the eyes of conservative authorities, the print is not signed within the composition, however, the publisher, Yokoyama Ryohachi claims credit for the design on the left margin. Based in Tokyo, Ryohachi was active as a publisher from 1883 to 1895, publishing works by leading artists of the time including Utagawa Kunichika (1835-1900), Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912), and Ogata Gekko (1857-1920). The foreign flourish utilizing two plump putti holding and unfurled banner is a format associated with the mastheads of print publications featuring news, possibly first established by Ochiai Yoshiiku (1833-1904) on a promotional sheet for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun Onishiki (Tokyo Daily News) published by Gusokuya in the summer of 1874.
Rebecca Copeland, Fashioning the Feminine: Images of the Modern Girl Student in Meiji Japan, 2006
William Wetherall, Cherubs and Banners, nishikie.com, 2008
University of Tokyo, Center for Modern Japanese Law and Political History, Graduate School of Law and Politics, Meiji Shimbun no. 10900
(inv. no. 10-5316)
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