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Mountain Rose, Castle-Toppler

Kitagawa Utamaro
ca. 1801

A high-ranking courtesan, looking back over her shoulder, is dressed in a red kimono decorated with flocks of chidori birds along the bottom and hem, with a kiri crest on her sleeves. This print is part of the series "Five Matches of Beautiful Women and Flowers," where different types of women are paired with flowers. In this instance, Utamaro has paired the mountain rose (yamabuki), shown behind the right title cartouche, with an elegantly dressed Oiran.

The courtesan, known as a "castle-toppler" (keisei), has an elaborate tachi-hyōgo hairstyle, resembling butterfly wings, ornamented hairpins, a hair stick, and a comb. Under her outer kimono, she wears multiple layers of under-kimonos, secured by a large light blue obi belt featuring a turtle shell pattern with peacock feather eyes and swirls. The term "castle-toppler" refers to high-ranking courtesans whose beauty and charm could influence powerful men, sometimes causing political upheavals. These women were believed to have the power to topple entire regimes.

It is possible that object information will be updated as new research findings are discovered. Please email if you can improve this record.

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