The word "geisha" literally means 'person of the arts'. Regarded as highly-skilled entertainers, they catered to the tastes of the upper echelons of society in pre-modern Japan.
While geishas evoke a sense of mysterious charm and veiled eroticism, I've always felt an unspeakable sadness for these women enslaved by choice, filial piety, or other circumstances to a life in which they were unable to love freely. 
The woman depicted gazes upward towards an unseen distance, her chin raised in dignified pride. Her hair is perfectly coiffed in the traditional shimada hairstyle and set with a ornate wooden hair comb. There's angst in the face, there's power in the face, there's maybe some anger in the face — and yet, composure in the face.
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