Courtesans were ranked according to their class origin, beauty, talent and charm. If a young girl in the profession showed promise, she was taught to read, write, sing, dance, and play a musical instrument such as the shamisen—a long necked, three-stringed instrument, similar to a lute, played with a large plectrum. Courtesans were expected also to learn the arts of flower arrangement, calligraphy and tea ceremony. This social refinement and artistic accomplishment separated them from teahouse servers and common prostitutes and elevated them to the status of icons within ukiyo-e culture.