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Beauty With Mirror

Beauty With Mirror

Beauty with Mirror by Hirano Hakuho (1932)

Full of mystery, this rare print plays on the viewer’s sense of curiosity. Despite being portrayed in front of a mirror, we are not able to see the young lady’s face. Is she beautiful, we wonder? Decorated with fine tie-dyed patterns of waves and wheels, her yukata - or summer kimono, is tied with a dark obi belt. Perhaps she is a geisha? While the artist hid her face from our gaze, he exposed her beautiful neck, considered as a highly erotic part of feminine body by the Japanese.

Before the Mirror by Hirano Hakuho (1932)
After the Meiji restoration men of all ranks were required to wear European suits at work, changing back to the familiar kimono at home, whilst ordinary women retained the kimono as an everyday garment. This led to an association of the kimono with womenswear and femininity which remains to this day. As can be seen in these early 20th C. prints, however, this upholding of sartorial tradition has not prevented fashionable young women from experimenting and innovating with modern hair and beauty trends
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