The courtesan faces the viewer with a confident and seductive stance.
In the seventh story of Shinkei 36 Kaisen, “New Story of 36 ghosts”, an evil man comes upon a cherry tree whose spirit presents itself in the image of a beautiful Geisha (courtesan). When the man reveals his intentions to chop down the tree, the Geisha’s slender arm reconfigures into a branch and promptly swats him away.
To perform the role of a Geisha requires a great deal of skill and control, as an art in and of itself. This Geisha’s posture holds the smooth fluidity of seduction in balance with the angular, rigid strength of a tree.
About the Artist
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) is widely regarded as one of the last masters of the Japanese ukio-e tradition of woodblock printmaking. Alive from the end of the Edo Period to the early stages of the Meiji Restoration, he fought to preserve the tradition of Japanese woodblock printing against the increasingly popular methods of lithography and photography adopted from the west. Tsukioka started this series of prints in 1889 and died in 1892 without finishing the last 3 prints, which were completed by his students. (This one is not one of the three.) Ostensibly, the tradition of ukiyo-e died with him.