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Asakusa tanbo Torinomachi mode (Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival)

Asakusa tanbo Torinomachi mode (Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival)
Woodblock print, from the seires Meisho Edo hyakkei (One Hundred views of famous places in Edo), signed Hiroshige ga, published by Uoya Eikichi, 11th month 1857
Vertical oban: 14 1/8 x 9 ½ in. (35.9 x 24.1 cm.)

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Lot Essay

Resting on a window ledge, a white cat gazes out through a barred window over the Asakusa rice-fields below. A flock of birds descend towards Mount Fuji in the southwest and a long silhouetted line of a festival procession extends across the paddies. Here was the sight of Otori Shrine, worshipped particularly by the commoner class in the Edo period for commercial favour and fortune, and communally celebrated in the Torinomachi festival in November.
The room seemingly belongs to a courtesan from the Yoshiwara district, with the raised viewpoint suggesting that it is located somewhere on the upper levels of an establishment. Beside the cat is a small towel (tenugui), which has been left draped on the window ledge, and a blue and white tea bowl (chawan) decorated with karakusa scrolls. Hairpins in their wrapping lay on the floor next to what appears to be a folded cloth, mostly obscured from view. The wallpaper is decorated with pairs of stylised plovers (chidori), one in white and the other with the colour inverted. The printer masterfully uses the natural woodgrain of the woodblock to lend texture to the wallpaper design. The subtle touches of the courtesan’s presence provide the room with a feeling of intimacy.

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