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22 maart 2020 

The Scabrous Lyrics of Utamaro's Singing Geisha

In this captivating and audacious composition by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) *, a geisha (female performer) mounts her lover, plucking the shamisen and singing as they make love. He leans back, suppresses a yawn, and makes fun of her.

Chinese Style

Surrounding their pillows is a folding screen painted with an ink landscape in Chinese style. The atmosphere is relaxed and intimate.

Singing geisha and client‘ (c.1802) from the series ‘Ehon warai jogo (Picture book: The Laughing Drinker)‘ by Kitagawa Utamaro

Translation of the dialogue:

Singing geisha: “A geisha’s lot is not a happy one -/ when she grinds her hips, she loses her fingering / when she starts to come, the string snaps./ Fucking her shamisen and plucking her pussy./ isn’t it a happy, painful, funny, sad, shameful, shameless old life.”

Man: “When she doesn’t cry out as much as she wants to, it’s a sure sign she fancies you. What a sweet pussy, gripping so tight. When she wiggles her arse then what’ll happen to the fella down there.”

Singing Man: “Oh baby! It’s ruining your pretty face!”

Click HERE for more designs from Utamaro’s The Laughing Drinker….!!

Source: ‘Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art‘ issued by the British Museum

*Utamaro is a master practitioner of the shunga genre. One of the intriguing features of his The Laughing Drinker series is the preface of the book in which he introduces his “wife” – we do not know if he actually was married – and suggests that she had to finish the work because he is on a trip:  ‘…when a couple is as extraordinarily loving as we are, then there is no better conjunction of the male and female principles than for the wife to add the coloring to drawings done by the husband.” (translation Timothy Clark)

Who is your favorite shunga artist? You can leave it in the comment box below..!

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Darya
By

Darya

on 22 March 2020

Thank you for this post! Well, it would be great if the coloring was done by his wife indeed! It's really fascinating to realize that artists not only draw a set of pictures but also tried to provide a story behind the whole set and made it even more exciting.

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 22 March 2020

Thanks Darya. Yes, sometimes the artists were also gifted writers.

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