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Inscription

by unknown hand, upper center in graphite: 10; top right in graphite: 19B 09; lower right in graphite: 91.4415; lower right in graphite: A; on verso, by unknown hand, center left in graphite: 11; center in typeset print on paper label: PUTTING ON THE OBI, OR GIRDLE. / This peculiar belt or girdle is universally worn by all classes of women in Japan with the exception of the / female members of Daimio's families; and the present style is said to have been in fashion for about two hundred / years. Little variation is ever made in the Obi, except perhaps the breadth, which is rather greater now / than was formerly worn. Nothing can be inferred respecting the position in society, from the manner of wearing it, / although some have it tied in a large loose knot, and others with the cords hanging down the back, quite as fancy / may suggest. / A woman who has become a widow and is determined so to remain for the rest of her life, ties her Obi in / front. After death, (the female being dressed in her best apparel, exactly as in life), the Obi is tied, not in a bow, / but strongly fastened in two knots, to indicate that it is never to be loosened.

Provenance

Michael and Jane Wilson, Wilson Centre for Photography, London, acquired 1991; gift to NGA, 2012.