Eizen Triptych Geisha Playing The Hand Game
An unusual and beautifully detailed set of 3 woodblock prints by Kikugawa Eizen (1787 to 1867). 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. Inside the restaurant a live party is in progress and the game of kitsune ken which is the Japanese equivalent of Rock, Paper, Scissors is being played. 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. Sihouettes as a pictorial depiction were first introduced in woodblock paintings and prints.
Eizen was one of the masters of bigin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) in the 1820s and 1830s. Kitsune ken was also played with the hands. A fox was formed by raising both hands and imitating a fox’s ears (shown in the middle print). A village headman was created by placing both hands on the knees (shown in the left print). A figure is also extending both arms to depict a gun (shown in the right print). The fox beats the headman, the headman beats the fun and the fun beats the fox. A sake container and cup are also placed in the centre.