Eishosai Choki / Woman Wiping Her Neck / Edo period, 1795-1796Eishosai Choki
Woman Wiping Her Neck
Edo period, 1795-1796

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Creator Name: Choki, Eishosai
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: Active c. 1786-1808
Creator Name-CRT: Eishosai Choki
Title: Woman Wiping Her Neck
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1795
Creation End Date: 1796
Creation Date: Edo period, 1795-1796
Creation Place: Japan
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: Ink, color, and mica on paper
Parts and Pieces: woodblock print
Dimensions: 14 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. (36.2 x 24.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.222
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: The technique of printing with blocks of wood has a long history in Japan. From the 8th through 16th centuries, it was primarily used for the mass production of Buddhist texts and icons. By the mid-17th century, books and single-sheet prints, often featuring scenes of city life based on contemporary literature, were produced to satisfy the demand of a growing and wealthy urban class for arts that reflected their interests and activities. Teahouses, brothels, and puppet and Kabuki theaters--clustered together on the outskirts of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka--constituted their primary amusements, and these townsmen celebrated a life style free from the constraints of daily life as well as those inherent in the rigid government-dictated social structure of the times. These establishments and the actors, courtesans, and writers who inhabited them set the trends for metropolitan fashions in literature, art, and clothing. The entertainment districts, their art and their fashions, constituted the ukiyo or 'floating world,' and thus woodblock prints (and paintings) depicting the localities, activities, and denizens of this world are known as ukiyo-e, or 'pictures of the floating world.'

Innovative compositions, an interest in psychological states, anda fascinating interplay of social commentary, satire, and caricature are characteristic features of these images, evident in the large number of prints produced in the 'big head picture' or okubi-e format during this period. Concentrating on the faces and upper bodies of their subjects, 'big head' prints present well-known actors and courtesans (as well as anonymous subjects) in an arresting and intimate fashion.

Facial features, setting, and actions delineate the subject in this print of anunidentified young woman designed by Eishosai Choki. There remains much uncertainty regarding the life of Choki (active c. 1786-1808), who is believed to have studied with Toriyama Sekien (1714-1788). Little is known about him other than that he used twodifferent names, Choki and Shiko, and it has been suggested that there is a link between his use of a certain style and each name. The signature on this print helps to date it to 1795/96, when the artist used the name Eishosai Choki.

Gazing absentmindedly into space, the woman languorously wipes her neck with a handkerchief. Her actions and the view of a mosquito net (presumably covering a bed) to her left illustrate the contemporary ditty written in the cartouche. It tells of a woman who, dreamingof her lover, awakens in the night to find his clothing on her bed. Whether he was actually present or only a dream, her longing for him has aroused her, and she can no longer sleep. It can be translated as follows: Awakening from a dream in which I rendez-voused with my lover,/ I said goodbye to him and was finally freed;/ I might have thought it was he beside me, but in fact/ I lay beside his night robe.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 99.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 82, 102.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 166, 167.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 115, 144-45.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.222
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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