The portrayal of sensual female masturbation in isolated settings were a beloved subject of ukiyo-e artists. This applies to the Edo period (1600-1868) but even more so to the Meiji period (1868-1912).
Sensual Female Masturbation
Often self-satisfaction in shunga is performed by hand, but sometimes with the support of a device such as a harigata (dildo), Women in the act of sensual masturbation are also depicted experimenting with wooden objects, a sword handle, vegetables, sea-cucumber, and masks of the long-nosed demon-god Tengu.
They are frequently shown looking at other couples, gazing at ukiyo-e prints of actors, or masturbating while secretly watching others or reading shungabooks. It is striking that the males and females shown masturbating while looking at shunga are clearly reading the text as much as examining the pictures. This, similar to the depictions of women reading their love letters, emphasizes the erotic power of the written word.
‘Female caressing her private parts lying behind a folding screen‘ From the series:’ Genji of the East, Charm of Flowers and Birds (Kachõ yojõ Azuma Genji)‘, c.1837 Designed by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
A design from a sleeve book depicting ‘a secluded masturbating courtesan while reading a shunga book‘ (c.1840s) by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
‘Female masturbating with dildo‘ (c.1823) from the series ‘Makuro Bunko’ (literally: Pillow Collection)‘ by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)
‘Female and male masturbator‘ (c.1840) from the series ‘Shunshoku Irifune nikki’ by Utagawa Kunimori II (act. ca.1830–1861)
‘Masturbating Woman‘ (c.1897-1899) from the series ‘Yakumo no chigiri (Poetic Interlude)’ by Tomioka Eisen
‘Manual masturbation‘ (c.1899) from the series ‘Izumu no chigiri‘ by Terazaki Kogyo (1866-1919)
‘Masturbating woman with dildo‘ (c.1900) from an untitled series by Ikeda Terukata (1883-1921)
‘Sensual girl aroused by the contents of a shunga book‘ (c.1890s) from an untitled series attributed to Tomioka Eisen (1864-1905)
‘A peeking woman stimulating herself while observing an intimate couple in the other room‘ (c.1897-1899) from the series ‘Yakumo no chigiri (Poetic Interlude)’ by Tomioka Eisen (1864-1905)
‘A housewife is penetrating herself with a tortoise-shell harigata (dildo) attached to her heel while being spied upon by a soldier standing behind a curtain‘ (c.1890s) by an unknown Meiji artist
‘Female playing with herself while watching two copulating bitches‘ (c.1910s) by an unknown Taisho artist.
‘Female sporting a flower tiara playing with a black dildo‘ (c.1840) by Utagawa school
‘Young masturbating female getting inspired by a shungabook‘ (c.1910) by an unknown Japanese artist
‘Female experimenting with sex toys while being observed by a young monk in the doorpost‘ (c.1910) by an anonymous Meiji artist
Another impression of the previous print
Painting inspired by the previous print design (c.1900)
‘Young male and female both masturbating while observing intimate activities in the other room‘ (c.1900/10) by an unknown Meiji artist
‘Young girl playing with herself‘ (c.1840) attributed to Utagawa Kuniyoshi
One of our loyal members Darya sent us a picture of an unusual design portraying a geisha watching a silhouette of an erected penis in the other room, which looks like a mushroom, while trying to please herself with mushrooms…
‘Aroused geisha pleasing herself with mushrooms‘ (c.1765) from the series ‘Ehon haru no yume’ by Kikugawa Hidenobu active 1760s–1770s (Source: ‘Сюнга. Откровенное искусство Японии / Shunga. Explicit art of Japan‘, 2016. Authors: A. E. Pushakova, K. G. Danelya)
One symbol of the male organ was (and is to this day) is the matsutake, a large, aromatic mushroom with an obvious shape…
‘Nude female uses a giant mushroom (matsutake) to satisfy herself ‘ (c.1854) from the series ‘Warai-gusa oheso ga cha‘ by Koikawa Shozan
‘A young woman masturbating‘ (c.1900-10) by an unknown Meiji artist
‘Two geisha masturbating using their hands‘ (c.1823) from the series ‘Tama no utena‘ attributed to Õta Nanpo
‘Female masturbating while looking at her favorite actor‘ (c.1825) from the series ‘Kon kurabe tama no ase‘ by Utagawa Sadashige
‘Woman satisfying herself with a harigata (dildo)‘ (c.1823) from the series ‘Kógo 2-satsu‘ by Keisai Eisen
‘Female embracing a rolled blanket while pleasing herself with a dildo tied to her ankle‘ (c.1823) from the series ‘Mutamagawa‘ by Keisai Eisen
‘Female sitting on a giant artificial phallus’ (c.1830s) from the series ‘Togoku denrai ocha senkou nou‘ by an unknown ukiyo-e artist’
‘Aroused young female surrounded by (most probably) shunga books‘ (c.1900)
‘Masturbating female with cat‘ (c.1830) attrib. to Kuniyoshi
The woman’s monologue in this design shows that she is fed up with her loneliness,’My husband doesn’t come home easily. That’s why I envy the couples in the other houses. It’s better to have a husband than to look at shunga at home and do it alone.’
A Chinese example…
Painting of a ‘Chinese girl masturbating observed by another girl hiding behind a tree‘ (late 19th century) by an unknown Chinese artist
The following video also includes shunga with masturbating women:
Click HERE for a closer study on the Tomioka Eisen design of the sensual masturbating female in this post (fifth panel)…!!!
Marijn is the founder of shungagallery.com. With more than 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.
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