Pictures of making Komachi-beni (old and new)

Beni Museum

Beni Museum
Tokyo, Japan

These pictures of making beni were in the possession of Benisei, a beni-ya in Kyoto. The processes of pounding benibana, kneedingrubbing the petals, pressing them, making an alkaline solution made from ash, and making an acid solution from ubai (smoked Japanese apricot) have not changed between these two pictures. However, the clothing and hairstyles of the workers and the tools have changed. The old picture of a beni-ba was painted sometime between the Edo Period and the early Meiji Period, and the new picture was painted sometime after the middle of the Meiji Period, as some parts had been mechanized through modernization. Perhaps these pictures were painted to record the processes of making beni, as the beni-ya industry had started to decline.
Benisei closed its business in 1939. These pictures were given to Kamenosuke Sawada, the sixth proprietor of Isehan-honten, from Benisei.


  • Title: Pictures of making Komachi-beni (old and new)

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