Kiyomitsu Torii, Hashira-e, Smoking Courtesan


Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Kiyomitsu Torii (1735–1785)
Title: Smoking Courtesan
Publisher: Rikakudo
Date: c. 1770 - 1780s
Size: 10.5 x 71 cm
Condition: Thin backing. Top and bottom panels attached. Soiling and discolouration.

A courtesan smoking and holding a kiseru (long pipe), her head slightly raised and turned to the left as she blows smoke rings, a smoking set on the ground, and a poem inscribed above:


'Smoke rises from her breast as intense as the burning desire for her lover.'


Hashira-e, or pillar prints, is a narrow print format originally intended for decoration of the supporting pillars in traditional Japanese houses. The prints would have been pasted to the pillars and exposed to the elements of the Japanese household, making those that have survived very rare collectibles. While these more unusual sizes present their own challenges to the printing process, they also allow the artist to be experimental, imaginative, and innovative with the design’s compositional limitations.


Subjects range from the traditional portrayals of bijin (beautiful women), to legendary figures and heroes, to birds and flowers, in a limited space brimming with artistic imagination and expression.

More Information
Print FormatHashira-e (Pillar Print)
SubjectBeauty & Female
Size 10.5 x 71 cm