Hand painted with sumi, dyes and pigments; rice paste resist

This eccentric omiyamairi (kimono for infant’s first shrine presentation) depicts a scene from Chushingura (The Tale of the 47 Ronin [Masterless Samurai]), the classic 18th century true story of loyalty and revenge. During the years that Japan was ruled by the samurai class, the ideals of the warrior were key cultural and philosophical precepts. The 47 ronin came to be models of warrior virtues. Oishi Kuranosuke, the robe’s central blindfolded figure (here partially obscured by the paper shoji), is the leader of the ronin.  Though apparently enjoying himself at the pleasure quarters, he is actually scheming to lull his enemies into a false sense of security so the ronin can exact their revenge when it is least expected.

The two lines of thread, one hanging straight down, the other angled to the left, are called osemamori, or ‘back protectors’, and are believed to protect the infant.

The embroidery that decorates the ties is not unique to this piece. Books called semoncho demonstrated, on sturdy paper and with actual embroidery thread, a variety of designs to choose from.

This robe is one of a two-piece matching set. The matching piece will be posted tomorrow.