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Courtesan Holding a Fan

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This beauty, a high-ranking courtesan must have been the dream ideal worshipped by many a romantic young man. The most splendid costumes were created during the late 18th century for these arbiters of fashion and style. Robes of silk crepe, velvet or satin were worn with broad sashes (obi) of gold and silk brocades. Her pyramidal coiffure, piled high on her head and embellished with elaborate hairpins is a dramatic change from the more casual styles of the early 18th century and required the care of a professional hairdresser.Tokyo Bay in summer is pictured on her fan, with a poem by Magao, a contemporary writer. It was translated by Louis Ledoux as follows:Even as guests do,So do the summer breezesEver returning,Come to Sodegaura,Place of heavenly coolness.

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