Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Dancing Child (IF -Caged)

small graceful steps, 
tracing the shadows of light
a face as white as snow
lips as crimson as blood

elegantly bewitching
graciously captivating
bright as daylight
solemn as the night 

~ A.K ~

Writing history along its path, the life of a Geisha is one unlike any fairy tale. It is beautiful and elegant. Eerie and sad. Retold more than a million times, yet misunderstood twice as many. Although history shows how much beauty these women artists present from their skills of entertaining, it is still a hard known fact that Geisha are haunted by the dark misconception the world has upon them.

Evolving from the world of prostitution during the Edo period, Geisha began a new leaf in life as professionally trained artists, skillful in music, dancing, poetry and the art of entertaining. They were taught to act as the best of hostesses, engaging in friendly conversations with male clients and sometimes flirting in playful innuendos, although none was to be expected beyond that. These were the things that true Geisha did. It was their life, their identity.

The false assumption of Geisha being connected to prostitution started during the Allied Occupation of Japan, when prostitutes dressed as Geisha and offered sexual services to Americans stationed in the country. Sadly, the misconception grew and continued to the modern days, leaving a dark stain on the faces of these women.

However, as no flawless face ever walked on earth, the Geisha world was also known by its tradition of "Mizuage", a ceremony that was performed at the coming of age of a "Maiko" (apprentice geisha), when she was considered ready to turn as a full pledged Geisha. Sadly, this ceremony involved the practice of exchanging the Maiko's virginity for a large sum of money from a sponsor who gave the highest bid. It was a practice that was not considered as prostitution by Geisha, but a large flaw in the eyes of the world, and outlawed in 1959.

So as history told itself, a Maiko, literally known as "dancing child", lived willingly inside her golden cage, just as Geisha grace the world of art in their cage of misconception until this very day.

If you're still interested to read more, by all means, visit this site or find out about the life of today's modern Maiko on this blog. Have fun! :) 


  1. One could always tell the true geisha from the call-girl Geisha during WWII due to the fact that true Geisha had dressers to make sure their kimono was perfect, and of course, the obi was tied in a complex knot in the back (which also provided support while sitting).
    Those dressing as Geisha but prostitutes had their obi tied in the front, to release the kimono, and redress by themselves.
    I find this history fascinating, sad, and one of the true traditions of a long culture that might completely disappear.....
    Your drawing is, as expected, perfect in reflecting the complexity of the pretty face and exquisitely dressed *doll*.


  2. How very interesting!
    I don't know very much about geisha, but have always been curious. ~ your illustration is so very bewitching, just perfect. Can't seem to get enough of your art!


  3. oh wow!!! this is gorgeous!!! what a wonderful piece Amalia!!! your work is brilliant!!!

  4. this is a wonderful piece! The colors the texture and movement is simply gorgeous ♥

  5. This is just beautiful, she looks so graceful and delicate! Thank you for all of the information too, very interesting! ~Lauren

  6. Amalia, this is so beautiful!! I love the graceful lines, layers and palette. There are so many ways for "caged" to be used as a metaphor for the life of a Geisha. Great post!

  7. A fascinating post, I would recommend 'Memoirs of a Geisha' by Arthur Golden as a wonderful book to read. And of course your artwork is stunning - a beautiful depiction of the subject.

  8. I learned a lot from reading this post, I had always known of the unfortunate misconception of a geisha, but had never really known why some people saw them in this way, it was interesting to read this and find out. Personally I have never thought of them in this terrible way myself.
    Anyway, your drawing is incredible (as usual) and she looks so beautiful, graceful and elegant!

  9. Oh my, so absolutely lovely. Memoirs of a Geisha was a favorite read of mine also. A fascinating topic and you portrayed it so well.

  10. Wow!! I love Geisha's and this is a beautiful piece! I have missed your blog!! It was very interesting to read about the Geisha I certainly learned a few things. Lovely work!!! :0)xxx

  11. "bright as daylight, solemn as the night"

    well I came and I went and I came back again.

    You really are a poet!

  12. So let me come back again. Amalia as the Geisha girl. No yes? She is so solemn. Her eyes are turned away. So what is she thinking I wonder.

    It's loveley and luminous (There I got some alliteration in, even if I spelt lovely incorrectly)

    Gee I even spelled "spelt' incorrectly.

    Are you photoshopping more now? I like the combination.

  13. Hey Amalia! I have to admit... I am guilty of unfortunate misconceptions. thank you for setting me strait! Your illustration is as "bewitching and captivating" as your subject matter. Thanks for dropping by my place. My widow is always open for your kind and fun comments. Glad I stopped by.... You never disappoint, my friend!

  14. I love the history of this...I have been enlightened...and a little moved. I would like to tell you about why I was moved. It involves Vietnam. I probably should email you that.

  15. Hello everyone! Thanks for your wonderfully clever and generous comments, I always appreciate them, you know! :)

    Well Anne, you're right! Isn't it amazing how a simple knot could mean so much?? That's one thing I always admire about the Japanese...their attention to details!!

    Julia & Lauren, thanks! Yes, I always find the Geisha world to be fascinating. Mind you, this post is only a small fraction of what it really holds. Hhm. Maybe I should do sequels? :)

    Hey Anne Marie! I agree, 'caged' is a very broad term when it comes to the life of Geisha. Cheers!

    Sandie and Heidi, I couldn't agree more! The book was fascinating and the movie brilliant! Love them both! :)

    Vanilla, I'm glad the you enjoyed the post. I'm no expert on the subject, but I have found myself lost in it so many times! It's full of things to ponder upon. Thanks so much! :)

    Nicola, wow!! You're finally back??? Welcome, welcome! I see you've been traveling to Japan? Well, I'll be waiting for your version of a Geisha, then!! Hahaha...

    Diana, Helena, Ivy & Krista, thank you!! (^_^)

  16. Hello Monsieur! Aww, you're too kind. I don't know a thing about writing poetry, but I do like throwing words together...and hey! What do you know? They rhyme! :)) Well, I wouldn't mind seeing myself as a Geisha, but I wouldn't want people to call me 'Geisha Girl', unless I ever end up selling more than just a friendly conversation. Hehehe. Cheers! (^_^)

    Hey Mr. Jack! Well, glad I could be of service to you. Good to know that misconception was straightened out. The Geisha would be ever so pleased! (And thanks for opening the window for me!! Hehehe).

    Hey there, Pat! Wow, I'm so honored to know the post moved you in anyway! And of course I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks a lot! :))

  17. Lovely Amalia, I'm always in awe of your art! This time - more than ever. As Andrew did I came, saw and left, then again and again until this very moment when I would like to write something to you. The "Geisha" theme is somehow distant to me, though I'm not prejudiced about Geishas. I'd had just a general idea until the day I watched the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" (director - Rob Marshall, 2005). I've watched it twice and that's why I knew some of the things you wrote about. But your information is so precious! I'll visit with interest the blog and the site. Thank you! It seems that this is an emotional theme for you - that's why your drawing has such a strong impact. Oh, what a heavy black hair! And you have put the lipstick in the right way... And her gracious hand... The shadows (on the wall?) just hint that She is in another, bigger Cage, but her spirit is free like these butterflies... At least I "read" your message in this way.xx

  18. And I like the new kind of your signature very much! I even didn't notice it... It's a part of the drawing.

  19. beautiful and whimsical work-great job!

  20. hi teh sori ya gw kebanyakan molor xD
    mnurut aku ini yg paling cantik diantara yg lainnya bahkan mengalahkan ini:

    i thought i was the prettiest, HAHAHAHAH :D

  21. This is a beautiful piece! I love the restricted color palette and the dark butterflies in the background. The factual information was also fascinating.

  22. Wow, this was so interesting I must say I am facinated by the complexity of the traditions practiced in Japan and the exquisite beauty. I just had a read through your previous posts regarding the copywrite issue. It has started my thinking as I have never bothered to watermark but maybe I should start. It's a sad fact of life that people often think the internet is just one big free resource.
    On another note your illustration is just beautiful as always. x

  23. Beautifully done, Amalia. I especially love your coloring choices in this piece. Her expression seems to say that a cage, no matter how still a cage.

  24. Rossichka, have I told you how well you interpret my art? Oh, of course I have! Silly me (^_^). Yes, well, that film was a masterpiece, and I will have it stuck in my memory forever. It's just the whole world of Geisha in general that fascinates me and how I think it somehow relates to my life as an artist. I will tell you about it on my e-mail soon! Thank you, dear friend. (hugs)

    Wendy, Vincent & Karen, thanks so much! You're all so kind... :)

    Mita, but of course you can always be the prettiest! (sisters are supposed to generous to each other, you know...hahahaha)!!!!

    Hey Kylie! I agree, the Japanese culture is so rich with beauty. It's amazing how art runs strongly in the people. It's taught well, I suppose? And thanks for reading the post on watermarking. I'm sure there's never any harm in claiming and protecting our work, no matter how pointless it seems sometimes. :)

    Della, hi! Thank you, I like your incredibly wise comment! :)

  25. one from me

    eclectic so good and bad

  26. This is outstandingly beautiful!

  27. This is one of my favorites! So passionate in your work Amalia!

  28. Such an interesting post,
    your prose and your lady is so beautiful, so stunning in a mysterious and lovely way. hello from the road as I wander about Canada!

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  30. and I love the colors :)
    is an unusual palette in your work, no?

  31. Hi There,
    How did I miss this. You have created yet another beautiful illustration. Your colors in this are just perfect.

  32. Well, thanks, Monsieur. That link is lurking on my sidebar somewhere.. heheh. You like, I like, eh? :D :D

    Janne & Roberta, thanks so much! That's really nice of you...

    Tammie, wow! wandering again, are you? You are so lucky! Can't wait to see all of your souvenirs. Cheers! :))

    Amba & Heather, thanks! Yes, this one in particular came out rather differently than my usual palette. I suppose the sadness of the story got to me? :)

  33. Ahhhh...sweet Amalia! You are such a know that? I am happy when you visit - you really know how to make a person smile. Thanks for your kind words..yes, that's my writing..when I don't think about it, it flows better. : ) Thanks so much! I enjoyed this "dreamy" piece..but it was a tough one for shoulda seen me today with the tissue wiping up the paint...yikes! I thought it was a goner. Thanks for your kind words...are you doing the sketchbook project 2010 this year? Hmmm..I'd love to see it in person in SF if you do!! Hint, hint! : )

  34. your artwork is beautiful as well as your words...

  35. Thank you, Amalia, for visiting my blog and your encouraging words!

  36. You are so right! The geisha as prostitute is a misnomer! I love your new avatar! I thought for a while you were calling me a S O B on my blog. I was so sleepy and I bolted out of bed! HAHAHAHA! Ahhhhhh! Tsup!

  37. brilliant amazing work:) congrats

  38. Shirley, you're so sweet... I might do the Sketchbook Project if time decided to be friendly with me... heheh. (^_^)

    Sara & Leni, thank you, you are very kind! :)

    Art is jokken, your art provokes the mind is a wonderful way!

    Ces, you are such a riot! Hahahahaaa!!!! Now, why would I call you S.O.B and risk getting battered in your wrath???! :D :D

  39. Your artwork is always beautiful but this one is especially enchanting. The serene expression on her face, the bright red kimono, and the background are just perfect. It's as if she's floating to a different world.


Tell me your lovely daydreams, they always make me smile! ♥