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Smile - And Show Your Teeth

(About the effect and perception of smiles in different cultures and times.)

"In Japan, it is tradition to find dental irregularities charming. An asymmetrical tooth appears to us to be something charming (kawai). On the other hand, we esteem that having regular teeth shows that one has quite a cold character, even a cruel one (zan-nin). Beautiful women in large towns have irregular teeth. The women in Kyoto are reputed and prized in this way for their irregular teeth."

(Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki.)

"In Heian’s times the ladies at court painted their teeth black (it became a distinctive feature of a married woman). [...] The heroine of the tale 'Lady who loved insects' perfects this eccentricity by displaying bushy (not plucked) eyebrows and natural teeth. 'How horrible!' exclaims one servant, 'Her eyebrows look like hairy caterpillars and her teeth like peeled caterpillars.' A captain who 'was interested in the young lady changes his mind when he notices the thick black eyebrows that mark her face with an unpleasant boldness and above all at the sight of her unblackened teeth that shine in a horrible way when she laughs.'"

Formal Court Costume of Medieval Japan (with black teeth)
(From Japanese Costume Making)

My undamaged copy of Genji should arrive today - Amazon's 3rd attempt to deliver a 3.5lbs paperback in mint condition. -__- You'd think they learn.


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