A painting by Seiu Ito depicting the art of erotic Japanese rope bondage, Kinbaku.
Tokyo-born artist Seiu Ito didn’t start his career as an artist by tying people up and painting or photographing the resulting scene, rather he excelled using other mediums to express himself such as metal, creating carvings out of ivory, painting and eventually sculpture. When he was thirteen Ito traded in his given first name of Hajime for Seiu. It was around that time that Ito starting to draw images of women bound with rope known as the erotic Japanese art of Kinbaku or “tight binding.” Then, sometime in the early 1900s, perhaps 1907 when he was in his mid-20s, Ito took a job as an illustrator for a local newspaper and was quick to succeed as an in-demand artist for several different publications.
Prior to rope bondage becoming a form or erotic sex play, it was widely used during what is referred to as the last traditional period in Japan, the Edo Period (1603–1867) to bind and restrain criminals and other kinds of captives. And it was the erotic version of being tied up like an outlaw that made Ito a rich man. Although he was married several times during his life, that didn’t stop Ito from having affairs with other women, some who he kept as mistresses for long periods of time. Ito’s collection of women would become the primary subjects for his paintings and kinky photography which included erotic suspension. One of Ito’s more well-known and questionable images (and there are many) is of his then-pregnant wife (his second) Kise Sahara. Ito photographed and painted an image of a very pregnant, partially nude Sahara bound with rope, hanging from the ceiling by her feet.
Sadly by the time, the 1930s arrived the Japanese government had long been busy banning artistic types and intellectuals as well as routinely censoring print media. Ito struggled to survive as an artist. Later his home and much of his work was destroyed in the Great Tokyo Air Raid. The work that survived the devastation helped solidify Ito’s dubious title as the “Father of Modern Kinbaku.” As you might imagine Ito’s work is the subject of several books as well as the 1977 film Beauty Exotic Dance: Torture! in which Ito plays himself to the hilt. Many of the photographs and paintings below are naturally NSFW.
More after the jump…