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tayū (not geisha) question

 
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Matsuhide
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 9:23 am    Post subject: tayū (not geisha) question Reply with quote
Though I understand tayū is now mostly associated with geisha, it also has noh and other master performer roots (*edit* as well as Shinto and Imperial Court, I almost forgot...). I'm not sure where, but I thought I once saw it used in the context of some artisans as well, but I cannot track down where I may have gotten that from. Has anybody else heard of such an application?
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
You mean, just in terms of the application of the term? As in, who is called 太夫?

Personally, I've most often heard the term used to apply to courtesans (not geisha), tayû being the highest rank of courtesan in the Yoshiwara. The term apparently came to be applied to courtesans at a time when it referred to a star performer, whether in Noh, dance, or music - when a courtesan performed somewhere, she'd be described on the bill as a star performer, a tayû, and so the term came to refer to 'star' or 'top' courtesans as well.

Well, then there's also 義太夫 (gidayû), i.e. a bunraku narrator & shamisen player, also known as a tayû. But that's a different story.

I'm not sure I've ever heard the term applied to geisha, but then I also don't know that much about geisha.

I have another source I can check out, but right now I have to run. ... I'll be back later with more on this. A great question; thanks for inspiring me to sit down and look into it.
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Nihon Kokugo Daijiten lists as the fifth definition for tayû (after the Shinto & performing arts definitions) 「漁師、船頭、人買いなどの頭格の者を呼ぶ称。」

"A term used to refer to head fishermen, boatmen, slave traders and the like." The encyclopedia then offers two 17th century examples of the term being used in that fashion.

I see a lot of references to a wide variety of performing arts, but not to artisans, per se, I'm afraid.
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Didn't geisha, more or less, evolve from tayuu?

Anyhow, that last bit from the Kokugo seems especially interesting since the specific examples you listed (fishermen, boatmen, slave traders, etc.) stray a bit from what I would consider "performing arts." They're a bit more... pragmatic(?), so I wonder if the term might have been a bit looser then?

lordameth wrote:
Well, then there's also 義太夫 (gidayû), i.e. a bunraku narrator & shamisen player, also known as a tayû. But that's a different story.

No, that's exactly the (well, perhaps ONE) aspect I'm curious about!

I wish to heck I could figure out where I got this idea in my head from, but thanks lordameth, for doing that bit of digging!
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Taiyū was the highest rank a courtesan could obtain and the title was not limited to just the Yoshiwara in Edo but other upper level red light districts as well in other cities. A courtesan was also supposed to be skilled in music, dance, poetry and other arts, but the advent of the geisha removed the blatant art of sex from the courtesan's bag of tricks. Also, a taiyū from the premier districts usually had very well-respected patrons and thus had a decent social standing.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
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No, that's exactly the (well, perhaps ONE) aspect I'm curious about!


Sorry to come back to this so much later.. guess I forgot about the thread.

But, the role of gidayû in bunraku is named after Takemoto Gidayû, who essentially pioneered that particular style of chanting + shamisen. I have never seen any explanation of when or how he earned this name, but, in light of our earlier discussion, and the revelation that "tayû" can refer to star performers in a variety of performing arts, perhaps (and, again, I've never seen this written anywhere) "tayû" was a sort of title or epithet he earned for his talents. Though, that still doesn't quite explain where the "gi" came from.

You can learn more about Takemoto, if you're interested, from the SamuraiWiki article I wrote some time ago, though it is quite brief and incomplete, drawing upon only one source. Just a starting point, of course - there are plenty of books and articles about him, I am sure.
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