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1 december 2018 

The Sensuality of Captive Women in Dire Situations

The prints below embody a limited, but favorite subgroup of Japanese erotica that portrayed defenseless, enslaved, or captive women. They are coveted and sought by specific collectors because for this specific area of interest there aren’t many subjects. A fascinating representation of Edo era sexuality.

captive women

Captive woman‘ (c.1910s) by an artist inspired by Yoshitoshi

Tip Of His Sword

Violent scene with a samurai assaulting a woman, holding the tip of his sword against her cheek while grabbing her kimono. The beauty at left bares her chest, offering herself as a sacrifice in place of her companion. The tension is increased by the comb and hairpins which are scattered on the floor. A makeup chest sits behind the sliding panel at left. Not directly a shunga design but this musha-e (warrior print) surely offers a similar sensuality.

captive women


captive women

‘Captive woman’ (c.1910s)


A striking scene with a peasant girl captured by a young male. She has just been stripped of all her clothes including her hair ornaments and only wears her leggings. Her tormentor is holding on to her arm and ponytail. We can only guess at his nefarious plans…

captive women


Red Lips

Another compelling image in this specific category from an earlier period that continues to fascinate me is from Toyokuni I’s groundbreaking Call of Geese Meeting at Night (c.1822). It shows a bound woman strapped to a pole left behind by her kidnapper(s). Toyokuni’s printer added a subtle effect with the red lips in a design that is otherwise dominated by black, white and gray colors…

captive women

Tied female‘ (c.1822) from the series ‘Ōyogari no koe (Call of Geese Meeting at Night)‘ by Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825)

Click HERE for the violent and bloody art of the Meiji master Tsukioka Yoshitoshi…!!!

For more Japanese art depicting damsels in distress click HERE…!!

Do you know other examples in art that treat the same subject? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below! 

About the author
Marijn is the founder of With more then 20 years of experience within the sensual and erotic art of shunga he is an authority in the genre. During this time he served many customers with complementing their art collection.
John B.

John B.

on 3 December 2018

Nice article. Do you also sell shibari art?

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