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Fashion of Black Teeth in Old Japan by lilsuika Fashion of Black Teeth in Old Japan by lilsuika
A Yedo (Edo) chemist's recipe for black teeth dye from Tales of Old Japan by A.B. Mitford (1871):

"Take three pints of water, and, having warmed it, add half a teacupful of wine. Put into this mixture a quantity of red-hot iron; allow it to stand for five or six days, when there will be a scum on the top of the mixture, which should then be poured into a small teacup and placed near a fire. When it is warm, powdered gallnuts and iron filings should be added to it, and the whole should be warmed again. The liquid is then painted on to the teeth by means of a soft feather brush, with more powdered gallnuts and iron, and, after several applications, the desired colour will be obtained." (Mitford 203)

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BIasty Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
that's pretty wild, but not as crazy as hobbling or century eggs
Urb3th Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey! I love all your historical fashion pieces! I was doing research for a bakumatsu story I am trying to write and came across your art on this site:…
Urb3th Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
It looks like they credit your tumblr account, but just wanted to share in case you don't like that sort of thing.
MaidMei Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2015  New Deviant Student Traditional Artist
I think this is also practiced in Thailand up till now? I saw a horror movie set in a province or something, the one where Mario Maurer was the main character and that he married(?) a woman which they found out to be already dead. I forgot the movie title, sorry. But I really did saw the residents there especially women who have black teeth even the dead woman has it.
JBaulmont Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015   General Artist
Very interesting!
SANACHI Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015
thank you for this!!!! well done and explained :D
Shintsuka Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow I've never heard of that before! This is really interesting. 
I guess it's not all that surprising though. Nowadays, people in Japan seem to have a trend for crooked teeth now.
Catfirmilla-chan Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2015  Student General Artist
HOW. DOES. yellow and white teeth look worse that friggin balck teeth...forever lost. but still hella interesting
AmplifiedSavagery Featured By Owner May 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow. So interesting!
AlrikN Featured By Owner May 5, 2015
Interesting, the use of paint.
I like old fashions, they have stories to tell.
Suigitouhime1 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2015  Student Filmographer
not gonna lie I saw an old japanese movie lone wolf and cub i think, literally screamed when I saw shaved eyebrows and black teeth. then found out it was an attractive fashion among married women.
MorisatoMegumi Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2015
Thanks a lot for sharing so much (and well researched) information! You really should make a book on drawing historical fashion from East Asia out of your works!!
Page-Mistress Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2015
[raises hand] Teacher, I think I once saw a Noh mask that's mouth was opened and black inside. Is this related to that?
WitchoftheMoor Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Huh...I had recently seen Miyazaki's Tale of Princess Kaguya, and saw Kaguya blacken her teeth. it was the first time I had ever seen this custom, but the way you explain it doesn't make too surprising. thanks for the info ^^
lavenderl Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hmm, this is very interesting, I always thought that ohaguro lasted for about a week.  I didn't know about the Meiji ban or the shaving eyebrows, either.  Thank you for this. ^^
bluedog444 Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Would I be dumb if I tried this?
xelanesque Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2014  Student Digital Artist
No, you wouldnt
Throneofsouls Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014   General Artist
This very informative though,( and this is just a guess) but wouldn't blacking your teeth over the years do something to them health wise?

Considering the list of ingredients in teeth blacking wouldn't that weaken the teeth & gums over years of usage?
Chromarin Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014   General Artist
Oxided iron itself is not particularly bad, even nowadays a Japanese black bean dish (kuromame) is made with rusted nails to enhance the black colour.
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014  Professional Filmographer
neat lesson. O_o thank you for organizing it.
TheGirlIsDaEbAk Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2014  Student General Artist
Japan's weirdness...its nothing new
Bunni89 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, this is so fascinating! I'm curious whether it made their food taste strange or left an aftertaste in the mouth. I can't imagine dye would be very pleasant so close to your tongue, after all. Ah, the sacrifices made for nobility!
sofitssofi Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2014
so that's why I saw many picture of japanese ghosts with black teeth.... they were actually very sincere and loyal women. That makes their image even sadder D:
ladyZosimos Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
Thank you! It's very informative and fun to read because of the pretty pictures. Do you draw them? Cool!
PagodaComics Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Student General Artist
WOW, I only knew it happened at times but didn't even know men were doing it as well. Thank you very much again the educational post! :hug:
I wonder how that stuff tastes, since it comes off... <,<
thefadedpanda Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's kinda gross looking, but I guess it was the thing at the time Llama Emoji-11 (Come Here) [V1] 
Yveni Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
the black teeth smile *shiver* so creepy tho >w<
PetiteBubu Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have no words. Wow. Well, the more you know...
charliestatzer Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Student General Artist
Didn't know that was thing back then. Well you learn something new everyday. :)
Ive always had a fascination with certain cultural practices from around the world and painting teeth black was one of them. I know in some tribes in Southeast Asia they still practice this custom but Ive always wanted to know the hows and whys of the custom in Japan. Thank you for this interesting look into the practice!  
IzzyMarrie Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I've heard of the tradition of painting the teeth black in Japan, but I never knew why or which people in Japan did this.  Thank you so much for the detailed information  ^_^  It's very interesting
HelpILostMyEraser Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so cool, I didn't even know about this. I love Japanese history, it's much more interesting (in my opinion at least) than Canadian history (which is pretty much all we learn about in Canadian schools. That and European history.)
Thank you for sharing this awesome information!
AngelSmileeeee Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014
Thank you for sharing the interesting information! That's something fresh and fun to follow :) Your art is great,too :aww:
BittersweetWaltz Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Yes I knew they were blackening their teeth but didn't know why actually. This is really interesting !
Yagamiseven Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014
Very interesting 
kotorikurama Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Student Filmographer
Very informative
TheWilyWildcat Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Student General Artist
Amazing, I'd heard that the Elizabethans also had black teeth and viewed it as fashionable, but I had no idea it was practiced in different cultures and exactly why they did it, and I never knew they treated people with white teeth with such scorn.  Really interesting.   
Kelazi5 Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014
That was really interesting, I'd never heard about this before. A neat bit of history you don't really hear about in America. Thanks.
ManWithTheMetalArm Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Student Writer
Magickat Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading that. Always curious about that.
pikeyPIE Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014
My head won't make a suitable trophy?! :'(
Pumagami Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very interesting!
Trencher7809 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Student General Artist
This is very informative and interesting, well done :)
ABronyAccount Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014
We in the West may think it an odd custom, but rumor has it that Magneto found the effect to be quite attractive!
riverotter7 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I suppose it would be one way of getting one's iron for the day. Very very interesting. I'd always wondered about this one!
Kayru-Kitsune Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow... with all that iron consumption, I wonder how that affected their health/longevity...
I-am-the-Zombie Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014
There probably wasn't that much iron in the final product (filings being powder), and given the iron deficiency in the traditional Japanese diet, at the time it was probably helpful.
Kayru-Kitsune Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, given a deficiency, that makes sense. I know what filings are and it seems like it would still be a lot, but I suppose it would level out an unbalanced diet.
TheDevilReborn Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014
This is very interesting! Thank you! 
SilverFoxThief Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014
:iconamazingplz: ...Why haven't I ever heard of this tradition before...?
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Submitted on
June 12, 2014
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