These photos would have been taken during what is generally known as the golden age of geisha.
The literal translation of the word “geisha” is closer to the term “artist.” They’ve never been officially defined as prostitutes (and not all were sex workers), although that is the popular view that came to define them.
A geisha in traditional garb, circa 1890.
This 1868 portrait shows off the obi — the sash portion of a kimono — which ties at back and can be styled in many different elaborate fashions.
An 1885 shot of a geisha serving tea.
A geisha poses with a koto, a harp-like traditional instrument.
Geisha were carefully trained in the art of the tea ceremony, serving, and entertaining.
1885: A geisha plays the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument.
Geishas playing Hanetuki — essentially Japanese badminton.
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