Eizen Triptych Geisha Playing The Hand Game


geisha are entertaining outside a restaurant as a game of kitsune ken is played inside

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Eizen Triptych Geisha Playing The Hand Game

An unusual and beautifully detailed set of 3 woodblock prints by Kikugawa Eizen (1787 to 1867).  The Eizen Triptych is titled Playing The Hand Game from the series Fashionable Beauties.

Signed Kikugawa Eizen and the Publisher Yamadaya Shojiro as well as the Censors Seal kiwame

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Three geisha female entertainers provide entertainment outside a restaurant and a party is in progress inside.  The customers are playing a game called Kitsune ken which is the Japanese equivalent Rock, Paper and Scissors. The loser has to take a drink of sake.

Eizen has ingeniously created a picture within a picture and shows the animated party in silhouette behind paper sliding doors.  A jester is dancing with a fan and a geisha is also playing a shamisen. Silhouettes as a pictorial depiction were first introduced in woodblock paintings and prints.

Kikugawa Eizen

Eizen was one of the masters of bigin-ga depicting pictures of beautiful women in the 1820s and 1830s.  Geisha’s are playing the game of Kitsune ken with customers.  Using their hands they imitate a fox’s ears in the middle print.  A village headman was created by placing both hands on the knees in the left print.  A figure is also extending both arms as a gun in the right print.  The fox beats the headman and the headman beats the gun and the gun beats the fox.  There is also a sake container and cup in the centre.

wikipedia Kikugawa Eizen

Eizen Triptych Geisha Playing The Hand Game is referenced in the wikipedia link above. He was lso the most prolific and best of the late followers of Utamaro.  He attempted to carry Utamaro’ss bijin style after his death in 1806. Along with Kikumaro, Tsukimaro and Utamaro II, Eizan studied under Utamaro’s father, Kikugawa Eiji.   Eizan, worked with harmonious colors and graceful lines and subjects. Eizan maintained the alchemy of elegance in his works and depicted figures with lightness and grace

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Eizen Kikugawa


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