Women and East Asian Art

Geisha Preparing for an Entertainment

Geisha Preparing for an Entertainment, Chōbunsai Eishi, Edo period, Triptych of polychrome woodblock prints; ink and color on paper, 15 7/32 x 29 15/32 in

Geisha Preparing for an Entertainment is a triptych of polychrome woodblock prints painted by Chōbunsai Eishi during the Edo years of Japan in the late 18th century.[1] The painting consists of six geisha in a room interacting with one another as they prepare for a course of entertainments among a simple background scattered with objects all around them. The composition of each section of this painting is occupied by each geisha being confined to a specific section and separated by the use of lanterns to evenly divide the space. The use of colors in this painting is highlighted by the expression of yellow and reddish tones for most of the geisha with the exception of two geisha who possess a darker aura as a result of their darker garment.

Geisha Preparing for an Entertainment

During the Edo period, it was very common for geisha during this period to wear decorative kimonos and accessories to makes themselves stand out more to help them attract the attention of men.[2] This painting is particularly interesting because all of the ladies’ kimonos are a soft, pastelish color that does not pull much attention to the eye at first glance. However, the floral detail embroidered into their kimonos is very precise and subtle that gives off a sense of professionalism and maturity. It is also very apparent that the kimonos follow the natural outline of the ladies’ figure that adds a sense of sensuality while displaying a long and straight figure.

Geisha Preparing for an Entertainment

Though these geishas do not obtain the elaborate hairstyles that most are known for, their hairstyles in this painting give a relaxed feeling among the geishas. The simple and aesthetic ideal embraced by the garments in this painting gives the geishas a fresh and dynamic quality of elegance as a form of beauty.


1. Chōbunsai Eishi. “Geisha Preparing for an Entertainment.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. 1794. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/36660? Accessed November 26, 2019.

2. Kelly M. Foreman. “The Perfect Woman: Geisha, Etiquette, and the World of Japanese Traditional Arts.” In Manners and Mischief: Gender, Power, and Etiquette in Japan, edited by Bardsley Jan and Miller Laura. 2011. London: University of California Press. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London. 67-69. <www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnb3n.8.> accessed November 26, 2019

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