Posted by Shade on March 20, 2003 at 18:13:53:
In Reply to: Re: Shijo School Woodblock Prints - Many Questions! posted by Colin on March 20, 2003 at 00:36:57:
Thank you, Colin. The geisha-surimono connection is one to look into, particlarly considering the number of geisha that appear in surimono. It would also make sense that announcement surimono were used to announce a more formal musical performance by geisha. I would be very careful about trying to find any continuity between Edo practices and contemporary practices though, as much as the practitioners today would like to claim an unbroken tradition. The geisha tradition, as a performance tradition, is really defined so much by context, and audience desires. Today they are made into a repository of all the old values and styles, as an explicit reaction against modernity.
: The albums of surimono sound very interesting. I would be fascinated to see one sometime. My second comment was referring to the existence of several well known books and albums of haikai with shijo illustrations. For example, Gessho's haiga are especially admired, and designed for books.
: My third comment was a guess extrapolating from Liza Dalby's description of geisha. The geisha she knew in the 1970s clearly took the celebration of feast days, like the New Year, very seriously. They also organized and publicized their own cultural events. Many of the later surimono seem to carry New Year greetings. Therefore, assuming continuity, I guessed that the Kyoto geisha may have been frequent commissioners of surimono. Her book also made it clear that, for a long time, the geisha tradition in Kyoto had been much stronger and much more strongly linked with traditional arts than in Tokyo.
: The geisha tradition in Tokyo has been weaker for a long time, because Tokyo (Edo) has always considered itself the modern capital. Geisha and traditional arts have been considered rather anachronistic. Kyoto, in contrast, has always been proud to be the home of Japan's traditions.
: Even without a geisha connection, I would have expected woodblock printing and traditional genres to have been much more persistent in Kyoto.
: So much for my guessing. Perhaps someone else can provide more definite information?
: : Thanks for the input, Colin. My experience agrees with yours on #1, though not #2, as such albums of surimono do exist.
: : Could I ask you to elaborate on the third part of your answer? Specifically, I have never before heard of a geisha-surimono connection. Where did you find this information? My understanding was that poetry circles were at the heart of surimono, though geisha may certainly have been a part of these circles. Why would the situation with geisha in Edo have been different from Kyoto? Did you mean to suggest that geisha commissioned many surimono? I'm curious about this.
: : Shade
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