Title: Yamauba Combing Her Hair and Kintoki
Artist: Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, ca. 1754–1806)
Period: Edo period (1615–1868)
Date: ca. 1801
The story of Yamamba and Kintoki celebrates the freedom of the spirited mother and son who lived together in the wilderness. Yamamba’s bare breasts express her maternity and her closeness to the earth.
In this print Yamamba combs her hair while Kintoki clings to her back with grasping hands. Utamaro’s exceptional linear virtuosity is demonstrated in the contrast between the broad, expressive lines of Yamamba’s garment, which rests at her waist, and the fine, delicate lines that represent the hair at her forehead and neck.