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Relief Prints

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Stylish Beauties with Child Treasures

Edo Period (1600-1868)
15 3/16 x 10 3/8 in. (38.5 x 26.3 cm)

Kikukawa Eizan
Japanese (1787 - 1867) Designer

Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Color woodcut
Credit Line: Gift of Margaret Sterling in memory of M. Louise Stowell, transfer from the Art Department of the University of Rochester
Accession Number: 1997.62
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei

Eizan's prints include so many mothers and children that he could plausibly be called Japan's chronicler of happy mothers. In the print shown here, an elaborately-dressed woman plays a small hand-drum as her child performs a dance. The odd white insignia on her black cloak, a stylized "bat" (kômori), is perhaps intended as a pun on the similar-sounding word for "child-care" (komori), a visual symbol of the theme of maternal affection. Her hair is done up with the heavy ornaments usually worn by courtesans, while the sturdy dancing child sports a cloth around his head and tied under his chin in the hôkaburi fashion used by festival street performers in the Spring Horse Festival. The "spring horse," the name also given to a carved horsehead mounted at one end of a bamboo stick, was a popular children's riding toy that was used to symbolize this spring festival, commonly celebrated during the Edo period. The word kodakara, or "Child Treasures," in the title of this print refers to both the woman's happiness in her child and the child's happiness in his toy.

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