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Events in Art and Archaeology

A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints
TORONTO, CANADA  •  Royal Ontario Museum  •  7 May - 27 November 2016
 

Featuring stunning woodblock prints, samurai armour, a kimono, screen paintings, lacquerwork, and illustrated books, the exhibition explores issues of gender and tells a pivotal story of sexuality in Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868). A Third Gender is the first North American display on wakashu. Four hundred years ago in Japan, a complex social structure existed in which gender involved more than a person’s biological sex. Age, position in the sexual hierarchy, and appearance were also considered. Fundamental to this structure were youths termed wakashu. Neither “adult man” nor “woman”—each a separate gender—wakashu were objects of desire for both, playing distinct social and sexual roles. Constituting a third gender, they are visually represented in these Edo period woodblock prints.

The exhibition features approximately 60 woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), visually representing wakashu. Produced since the 8th century in Japan, woodblock prints, created collaboratively by a designer, engraver, printer, and publisher, became popular in the 17th century. The exhibition’s prints were created in early 18th to mid19th centuries by major ukiyo-e masters including Okumura Masanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, and Kitagawa Utamaro.



Royal Ontario Museum Website


Contact: Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen’s Park, Toronto,
ON  M5S 2C6
Tel: (1) 416 586 80 00



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