The Geisha Toye as a Vendor of Poems

This woodblock print in the Metropolitan Museum of Art depicts The Geisha Toye as a Vendor of Poems, and dates to c. 1795. Geisha were the purveyors of iki, a kind of dark artistic cool. Gei means art and officially, the artistic roles geisha filled were that of dancers and musicians, as well as being known as incredible conversationalists. Depicting herself as a poem vendor fashions Toye as a conjurer of visions and beauty through words. The literary theme carries over to the characters painted on her kimono.

The Geisha Toye as a Vendor of Poems. JP 1390, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.