A Votive Picture to Be Donated to the Kannon of Asakusa (Asakusa Kannon hō kakegaku no zu), by Takigawa of the Ōgiya, Kamuro Menami and Onami, with Tomikawa, Kumegawa, Tamagawa, Tsugawa, Utagawa, and Kiyokawa

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

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Oiran, high-ranking Japanese courtesans, were often renowned artists as well as stylish beauties. In the 1790s and early 1800s Takigawa, of the Ōgiwa brothel in Edo (now Tokyo), was both artist and beauty. Several portraits celebrating Takigawa exist today. This woodblock print of Takigawa directing a group of other courtesans and young assistants showcases the oiran as an artist and temple patron. She and her assistants are painting an image to be offered to the temple of Kannon, a Buddhist bodhisattva, at Asakusa in what is now Tokyo. Votive offerings like this painting were a way for courtesans, like other members of society, to gain favor with the gods or bodhisattvas and to advertise their own largesse. Learn more about courtesans and spirituality in Edo art.

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