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 “Onitsutaya Azamino and Gontaro, a Man of the World” (1798-99), by Kitagawa Utamaro I, is reproduced from "Tattoos in Japanese Prints," published by MFA Publications and distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

Courtesans, clients and codes in eighteenth-century Japanese tattoos

“Onitsutaya Azamino and Gontaro, a Man of the World” (1798-99), by master ukiyo-e woodblock printer Kitagawa Utamaro I, is reproduced from Tattoos in Japanese Prints from MFA Publications. It is one of many prints depicting the codes and rituals of adding (or erasing) erotically charged tattoos in eighteenth-century Japan, where "a homemade tattoo was one method of proving romantic or religious devotion,” according to author Sarah E. Thompson. “Both men and women vowed eternal love by getting a tattoo of the name of the beloved plus the word “life” (inochi), with the last stroke of the word written extra long to suggest lifelong devotion.” Here, the courtesan Azamino uses a needle on her lover, Gontaro.

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

Tattoos in Japanese Prints

MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Hbk, 7.5 x 9.75 in. / 152 pgs / 90 color.

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