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A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese…
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A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Edo-Period Prints (National…

by Joshua S. Mostow

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Recently added bySheridanBishoff, TheIdleWoman

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An instructive introduction to the phenomenon of wakashu in Japanese culture and their depiction in traditional ukiyo-e woodcut prints. The useful introductory essays explain the meaning of wakashu - young men who have reached sexual maturity but are not yet old enough to have officially come of age, very much like the Greek ephebe - and also cover the depiction of these youths in prints - where they are distinguished by a distinctive glimpse of the shaved scalp behind the long forelock (as visible in the image on the cover). The top of the scalp would be fully shaved on coming of age. The catalogue itself is divided into sections exploring the way that wakashu were depicted as objects of attraction for both women and adult men, as well as considering links between this culture and that of the female impersonators in kabuki theatre. Essays at the beginning include discussions of more explicit shunga which could not be displayed in the exhibition itself. It is a useful and thought-provoking introduction to an aspect of Japanese culture that I, for one, wasn't fully aware of before: engaging and scholarly but not dauntingly academic for those who, like me, have little specialised understanding of Japanese prints. ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Dec 6, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0888545142, Paperback)

Gender relations were complex in Edo-period Japan (1603 1868). Wakashu, male youths, were desired by men and women, constituting a third gender with their androgynous appearance and variable sexuality. For the first time outside Japan, A Third Gender examines the fascination with wakashu in Edo-period culture and their visual representation in art, demonstrating how they destabilize the conventionally held model of gender binarism. The volume will reproduce, in colour, over a hundred works, mostly woodblock prints and illustrated books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced by a number of designers ranging from such well-known artists as Okumura Masanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro and Utagawa Kunisada, to lesser known artists such as Shigemasa, Eishi and Eiri. A Third Gender is based on the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses the largest collection of Japanese art in Canada, including more than 2,500 woodblock prints."

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 06 Dec 2016 10:42:21 -0500)

Gender relations were complex in Edo-period Japan (1603-1868). Wakashu, male youth, were desired by men and women, constituting a third gender; with their androgynous appearance and variable sexuality. For the first time outside Japan, A Third Gender examines the fascination with wakashu in Edo-period culture and their visual representation in art, demonstrating how they destabilize the conventionally held model of gender binarism. The volume will reproduce, in colour, over a hundred works, mostly woodblock prints and illustrated books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced by a number of designers ranging from such well-known artists as Okumura Masanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro and Utagawa Kunisada, to lesser known artists such as Shigemasa, Eishi and Eiri. A Third Gender is based on the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses the largest collection of Japanese art in Canada, including more than 2,500 woodblock prints.… (more)

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