Torii Kiyonaga, A girl dancing with shell clappers under her feet, a woodblock print
Published in Japan
Edo period, around AD 1784
From the series 'A Fashionable Presentation of Three Young Ponies' (Fūryū mitsu no koma)
It is the little girl who steals the show in
this intricately designed print by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815). She
is dressed in an exquisite kimono decorated with the lucky treasure
pattern and she dances on half clam-shell 'hooves',
fixed to her feet with silk cords which she pulls taught. Her
kimono whirls and her hair flies out with the movement. Four women
look on in kindly admiration. One provides music for the dance on
In the mid-1780s, Kiyonaga's figures reached the height of slender elegance, emphasized here by the long flowing lines of the impossibly long kimono sleeves. The apparently autumnal colour-scheme, however, is deceptive, since the tan-coloured kimono of the tallest woman has faded from its original bright purple.
Another print in this series shows a small boy riding a hobby-horse, hence the title of the series, 'A Fashionable Presentation of Three Young Ponies'. The third design of the set is not known.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
Narazaki Muneshige, and Yamaguchi Keisaburo (eds.), Ukiyo-e shūka, vol. 2 (Tokyo, shu eisha, 1979)