Ramblings on The House on Adachi Moor

Posted on Tue, 26 November 2013

I am lucky enough to have acquired an original print of this iconic work of art, so I am particularly fascinated by it. Consequently, I have done a little research and it has triggered a few questions. So, now for some more practical matters, more on the history later.

Master K on the feasibility of the tie

Having studied the tie in this picture, I became more and more convinced that it was not possible as shown and some degree of artistic licence had been applied. Here's what Master K had to say about it:

"You asked about the Yoshitoshi tie pictured in "Lonely House?" For a long time, I, too, thought this a fanciful tie that couldn't be done but over time I started to think more about it. As you know, I have most/all of Yoshitoshi's "bondage" illustrations and they all have similar hojojutsu based ties. That is, the ties always involves a rope across the neck, ropes crossing the brachial nerves above the elbows and, sometimes a waist rope -- all standard hojo designs. The back is almost never seen leaving the interested spectator to wonder about the design. Naturally, there are many hojo patterns that fit this basic "front" view and it's obvious Yoshitoshi saw these patterns in use in the 19th century.

When we consider "Adachi," however, it appears that the tie is completely fanciful because we can see the side of the hanging woman and there appears to be no rope other than the wraps around her upper arms. Clearly this could mean Yoshitoshi or his carver didn't have the presence of mind to do the correct detailing for us rope lovers or because including more rope at the back simply muddied the design too much. However, when I was in Tokyo last I realized, through a session I observed w/Yukimura sensei, that there IS hojo ONE pattern that actually DOES fit the Yoshitoshi "Adachi" print. This is the "big diamond" hojo tie that begins at the neck and, depending on the partner's physiology, can run down the back of the upper arms to the brachial nerve point (we clarified this and he meant 'brachial plexus'), twists around the arms exactly as in the print, then runs down the back of the forearm to go around the waist to then bind the hands. With this tie, it's just possible that you'd NOT see much more rope in the 3/4 side view Yoshitoshi depicts. And of course, it's only fair to give him some artistic license for any minor inaccuracies. ;) My guess is that this is the hojo design Yoshitoshi intended because it was very standard during his time and he actually did use the front version of this tie in a print he did later on.

One final point, while my logic could be all wrong, for a non rope guy Yoshitoshi did show a surprising degree of accuracy in all his "bondage" pictures. They might not be perfect but they do seem fairly authentic." 

Safety considerations

Given that the tie, or a close approximation, seems possible, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to try to follow in Ito Seiyu's footsteps be attempting to replicate the picture photographically.

Given that a lady who had modelled for me before was pregnant, the next step was to research the safety implications; after all, Ito Seiyu had been branded as a lunatic for his attempt and, of course, it would be on my conscience forever if anything went wrong. Luckily, a good friend is a highly qualified consultant and no stranger to kink. When you read his reply, you will see why I decided not to go ahead:

"I'd say no, for two main reasons. Firstly, breathing. Although the uterus is normally so small as to be effectively static in the pelvis, once enlarged as much as it is by 7 months, it starts to exert pressure effects on other organs depending on what position the person is in. In the last month of pregnancy some women experience restriction on breathing in certain positions just due to the bulk of the uterus restricting the downward movement of the diaphragm in inhalation; by 7 months this wouldn't tend to be a major problem in normal positions, but could well be in inversion. In an inverted suspension, the combined effects of gravity on the normal internal organs, plus enlarged uterus, plus reduced ability to flex the back to compensate, might lead to difficulties. Even though you'd be able to release her at the first sign of distress, moving towards positional asphyxia endangers the baby before it endangers the mother, of course.

The second problem with it would be vascular. The weight of the pregnant uterus can actually cause women to feel faint when lying flat. Although these seems a bit paradoxical it's because the uterus presses downwards on the vena cava, the main vein returning blood to the heart, restricted return equals restricted output, and therefore fainting/collapse. Although there haven't to my knowledge been any studies done of maternal blood pressures and placental perfusion (=oxygen supply to baby), one could postulate that their might not be anything worse, per se, about being upside down than normally standing, the problem being in lying flat. The problem would be likely to come on reversion to feet down from the head down position at the end of the suspension. The normal fainting risk would be significantly increased, and effects on the baby hard to predict. That's without considering the effects of the ties themselves. Load bearing around the pelvis wouldn't be wise as by 7 months the joints of the pelvis have already begun softening to prepare for the widening of the birth canal. There could be a risk of injury or joint dislocation which could complicate subsequent labour. I don't mean to labour (boom-tish!) the point, but I know you'd want to understand the reasons for taking this view. At the end of the day it's one of those areas where one might get lucky and have no problems, but the consequences if one isn't lucky don't bear thinking about. I wouldn't view it as safe. Hope that helps anyway!"

So, in short, don't try this at home!