Yoshitoshi's 'Mirror of Beauties Past and Present' (1875-1876)


This page attempts to catalog all known prints in Yoshitoshi's series 'Kokon hime kagami (Mirror of Beauties Past and Present - 古今   姫   鑑)'.

It dates from the middle of Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about thirty-seven, and just recovering from a serious slump in his life. It dates from about a decade before his well-known masterpieces such as his great series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" (1885-1892), and "New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts" (often called simply "Thirty-Six Ghosts") (1889-1892).

The title cartouche in many of these prints exhibits a particular form of visual punning common among Japanese literati; the word hime (meaning 'princess' or 'young noble-lady'), normally written with the character 姫, is written with other characters in many prints, characters which have the same sound, but a different meaning. Since many of the prints show women of other classes (e.g. courtesans), the title is usually translated with a word such as 'beauty' substituted for 'noble lady'.

This page (and list) is not necessarily complete; it is not well documented, and there may be yet other prints which have not yet come to our attention. If you know of any prints from this series which aren't listed here, or have either i) information about any errors on the page, i) better images than the ones below, or iii) missing information about individual prints (e.g. publisher, exact date) please let us know.

Technical details

Previous cataloguings

The only known attempts to enumerate this series was in Keyes' thesis:
	Roger. S. Keyes, "Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and
		Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892",
		Cinncinnati, 1982
where it appears as series #331; he listed eight prints in the series.

We use the Keyes numbers for the first eight, and have numbered the rest in the order in which we discovered them; as far as we know, the prints in the series do not appear to have any numbers on them.

The Prints

To see a larger image of any print, please click on the thumbnail; those images are roughly full-screen sized (if we have an original that big), and fairly compressed. If we have a higher-quality image, that image can be viewed by clicking on the "Large Image" link, which gives the size of the image (for the benefit of those on slow links).

Thumbnail Large image Number Date Publisher Title Description
#1 Murasaki Shikibu Murasaki Shikibu reading a handscroll
447KB #2 The woman Tomoe (Tomoe onna) Tomoe Gozen in armor with a spear.
#3 Oiko Oiko squeezing arm of wrestler
#4 Matsushima no Tsubone Matsushima no Tsubone writing a letter
#5 The wife of Akechi Mitsuhide holding a bottle in the rain
361KB #6 Usugumo The courtesan Usugumo holding a cat
260KB #7 Chiyojo Chiyojo by mosquito net
#8 Asaoka Court lady Asaoka watching mouse on screen while holding a lantern
382KB #9 Shushiki Ome Shushiki (1668-1725) amid falling cherry blossoms

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© Copyright 2009-2012 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine

Last updated: 18/July/2012