Three women by the Jewel River of Takano

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    Kubo shunman was a pupil of Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820) and produced relaxed and elegant colour prints influenced by Kiyonaga. He was particularly adept at the use of muted colour schemes (benigirai) in the time when the government passed sumptuary regulations during the Tenmei and Kansei periods (1781-1800) forbidding the use of bright colours. 'The six jewel river' is one of the finest works by Shunman. The six rivers are all in different areas of Japan but Shunman’s six rivers from the Mutamagawa series is shown here as a continuous image. The collection of the Ashmolean Museum lacks the fifth image, that of Ogi of Shiga.

    This print is of Takano no Tamagawa (the Jewel River of Takano). Three beauties stand near the fast-flowing river during what is probably early autumn. The middle woman wearing a kosode (short- sleeved kimono) has a straw hat to keep off the sun and the woman on the left, with a furisode (long-sleeved kimono) of chrysanthemum design, holds a fan to cool herself; the woman on the right bends over to adjust her tabi. In the background, there are several thatched houses next to rice-fields and what is probably a grave next to the cedar tree. This river is known as a place of kanjō (initiation and purification).

Glossary of terms

vegetable pigments

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