Women fulling cloth at the Jewel River of Mishima

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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 Mishima no Tamagawa (the Jewel River of Mishima, also known as the Jewel River of Kinuta). On a windy autumn day, a beauty and her maid are standing in front of two women who are smoothing fabric by beating it on a kinuta (a wooden tool). This technique was used as a finishing touch to the garments, in order to smooth them and to enhance glossiness.

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vegetable pigments

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