In March 2013 I took a series of photos of Kiyono-san during her misedashi. Over two years later I have finally made a drawing from that day.
So what is a misedashi? It is the very first day that a girl becomes a maiko. I have only witnessed one misedashi – this one. Usually a girl is around 16 years old. She has already spent a year or thereabouts training (and working extremely hard) to get to this point. Misedashi means ‘open for business’. From now on she will attend ozashiki and perform her arts – even as she continues to take lessons in all her disciplines.
Do you see that Kiyono-san only has her bottom lip painted? This is because she is the most junior of maiko. She won’t paint her top lip until a full year has passed. And notice how much red is in her collar. Red symbolizes childhood. At this early stage of her career she is supposed to look innocent, cute and childlike. It is not until much later that sophistication starts to creep into her ensemble, make-up and hairstyle.
If you would like to see the photo-essay I made from this day, please see my blog post called “A Girl’s Best Friend“.
I named the drawing with Katherine Mansfield’s short story title, “Her First Ball” in mind. The drawing is on Velin BFK Rives paper. It is the first portrait I have tried on this surface. I feel, more and more, that Velin BFK Rives is becoming my own best friend. The more I use it, the more I like it.
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