Body of a Courtesan in Nine Stages: A 19th century study of decomposition

“Body of a Courtesan in Nine Stages” was painted on handscroll by Japanese artist Kobayashi Eitaku in the 1870’s.  The scroll shows the stages of decomposition of the body of a woman, including the fresh stage, bloat, decay, and skeletonization.  This painting has scientific, religious, and erotic themes.

It’s not unusual for artists to use dead bodies and body parts for their subject matter because of their need to study the human form, and because of the historical connection between the science of anatomy and artistic illustrations.  However, “Body of a Courtesan in Nine Stages” is the earliest example I’ve seen that illustrates the stages the decomposition.

This taphonomic painting also has Buddhist themes because it depicts the impermanence of the physical body.  The temporary nature of life and the physical existence is stressed during Buddhist rituals.

Because the subject matter is a courtesan, the curator notes for this piece at the British Museum say that this handscroll also falls into the genre of erotic art, or shunga.  The wordshunga means picture of spring in Japanese.  The word “spring” is a common synonym for sex.

All images come from The British Museum.




Body Positivity for the win.

9 out of 16 are WoC from 9 different nationalities - Spanish, Native American, Middle Eastern, Greek, Hawaiian, South African, Indian, African-American and Chinese.

Even the “white” people don’t all come from the same place - French, Irish, American, Scottish, German, and English.

I’m really sorry if I left out YOUR nationality or YOUR body type, but if I kept going to include every single possible woman in the world I’d never have time for sleep or school work.

holy crap you got everyone

I really like this, i started at the beginning in closeup, and every time i clicked there was something new and towards the end, i was seeing bodies id never seen represented

yea this is seriously great! i hereby dub it the most beautifully inclusive actual representation of body positivity i’ve seen illustrated yet.

(Source: fortress-of-the-damned, via cultureunseen)