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Two Maiko

Two Maiko

Two Maiko by Gekko Ogata (1880)

Tying the obi skillfully is an important aspect of kitsuke, the art of wearing a kimono. There are many different styles of obi belts, which can be tied in many different ways, depending on occasion, social position, or personal taste. Maiko (apprentice geisha), for example, are easily identifiable by their red collars and the long, loose ends of their obi belts, worn in the darari musubi style just as showcased in this print.

It is depending on how the obi sash is tied - in front, in the back, or with loose ends - that we can get information on the status of women represented in Ukiyo-e prints. During the Edo Period, courtesans were obliged by regulations to tie the obi in front, and thus they are most often recognisable in prints thanks to that feature. It is relatively rare to see maiko wearing the obi with loose ends depicted in prints, as above.

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