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Japanese Ivory Geisha – Polychrome and Gilt


Japanese Ivory Geisha: A rare large-scale 19th-century polychrome ivory depicts a geisha dressed in a kimono holding flowers and a fan.
Japan, circa 1860

Height 44in – 112cm
15 x 22 cm

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A rare large-scale 19th-century Japanese Ivory Geisha carved from a single tusk. With her hair finely detailed and hung with jewels and pearls. She stands wrapped in a blue kimono with detailed trim and gold highlights she holds a richly carved and painted group of chrysanthemums naturalistically tied with a cord with tassels. She holds a basket in the other hand. Above a phoenix bird with a rolled paper message suspended from its beak.

Often unfairly confused and misunderstood as prostitutes, the Geisha tradition was as an entertainer or hostess. She was educated in the classical tradition, studying music, singing, dance, conversation and poetry. She was a skilled artist and philosopher, educated and erudite in contemporary politics.

As such a well rounded and powerful persona, it is no wonder that the Geisha was so celebrated in the Japanese decorative arts in works like this Japanese Ivory Geisha. She represents all of the above and a great flag bearer for women.

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