Figure of a Kabuki Dancer
Artist/maker unknown, Japanese
This porcelain figurine represents a female dancer from the Kabuki theater. Okuni, a purported priestess of the Izumo shrine and the legendary founder of Kabuki, shocked audiences with her sexually suggestive dances at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Kabuki performances by women were soon banned in Japan, however, and from 1629 on, male actors performed both male and female roles.