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  • Japanese: 大首絵 (ookubi e)

Ôkubi-e (lit. "decapitation pictures") were a sub-genre of ukiyo-e bust portraits which became widespread beginning in the late 18th century.

There certainly had been bust portraits in Japan in earlier periods, but it was only in the 1770s or 1780s that busts first became a standard or widely common mode. This development is generally credited to either Katsukawa Shunchô or Koikawa Harumachi. As with other portrait forms in ukiyo-e, the first bust portraits were images of kabuki actors, followed by pictures of courtesans.

Ôkubi-e were banned by the shogunate in 1800, not for any particular reason of propriety, but "because they stand out" (medatsu).


  • Timon Screech, Obtaining Images, University of Hawaii Press (2012), 195-197.