Portrait of a Courtesan
Chōbunsai Eishi, Japanese, 1756 - 1829
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The decorative symbols on the kimono—cranes and turtles—are auspicious emblems for long life, often used at New Year's celebrations. The poem, written by Ota Nampo (1749–1823), reads (translated): "Beside the / Flowering Cherries / Of Naka no cho Not a single / Tree from the / Deep mountain valleys."
"Naka no cho" was the main avenue in the pleasure quarters of Edo (present-day Tokyo). The poem implies that no uncultivated country woman would be found among the sophisticated beauties of this area.
The textile mount around the painting is from a kimono; its pattern echoes the mountain valley of the poem.