Three dancing geisha apprentices


Hand coloured albumen print
(Not attributed)
Circa 1880

Cartboard dimension 30 x 38 cm
Photograph dimension 20,5 x 26 cm

Video presentation


This beautiful photographic composition taken in the studio is an albumen print enhanced with colours and mounted on cardboard.

The setting is sober with a neutral background on which the three apprentice geisha stand out. The correct term for them would be “maiko” or “hangyoku”, depending on whether they are from Kyoto or Tokyo. The training to become a geisha lasts about five years during which they assimilate the traditional knowledge related to the arts, including dance. Then, they become the ambassadors and guarantors of traditional Japanese arts.

The complicity they share is visible through their posture. Softness emerges from the harmonious arrangement of the three women who respond to the three lines marked on the floor. The woman on the left has her hand delicately placed on the obi 帯, the belt, of the woman in the middle. She is looking intently at the one on the far right. Their arrangement creates a visual and emotional coherence.

They are each dressed in an elaborate furisode kimono whose colours and patterns vary from one to the other. The long sleeves are characteristic of maiko and hangyoku clothing. Finally, the dancers wore long kimonos with thick, padded borders as can be seen in this photograph. They also wore tabi, traditional Japanese white socks with a slit toe.

Condition report:

Photograph in very good condition.