The blossoming of philosophy as a field of study was

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Unformatted text preview: sophisticated and restrained, with composition and coloring precise. Sharaku’s, by comparison, are stylistically crude. His colors sometimes clash and he seems to lack the sureness of placement of his subject matter that is so characteristic of Japanese artists. But these ostensible failings seem only to enhance Sharaku’s forte: the bursting, elemental energy he has infused into his actors, whose faces and bodies are contorted with dramatic emotion. Unlike most ukiyo-e artists, Sharaku sought to portray real people, not simply stereotypes. It has even been speculated that he stopped producing prints so abruptly because actors were outraged at being so unflatteringly drawn. This seems absurd, since no other artist has ever captured the spirit of kabuki as Sharaku did, and it seems much more likely that the actors he drew fully appreciated having their dramatic skills depicted in such a vivid, exciting manner. Before ending this chapter, much of which deals with the lives and pursuits of the denizens of the pleasure quarters, let me say a few words about one habitué of the quarters who not only embodied much of its style and spirit but even today is internationally known as a unique product of Japanese culture, the geisha or “person of accomplishment.” The geisha first appeared in the mid-Tokugawa period (the earliest recorded use of the term geisha is 1751). Originally, geisha were men, The Flourishing of a Bourgeois Culture 203 Fig. 59 Otani Oniji III as Edohei by Sharaku (Art Institute of Chicago) but gradually they became exclusively female. Although most geisha worked in the pleasure quarters or “floating worlds,” they were also considered to occupy, in a sense, their own realm, called the “flower and willow world” (karyûkai). Geisha were entertainers, skilled as singers, dancers, storytellers, and conversationalists, who were employed at parties and other social affairs primarily to entertain men. There was supposed to be a clear distinction between geish...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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