Wedding furisode uchikake (overkimono with long sleeves)
Rinzu (figured satin)
Embroidered, stenciled, couching

This wedding gown was probably part of a matched set of three robes. The uchikake is the topmost layer, worn open. Most likely the other two robes were red and black, customary for the times. The workmanship, materials and design indicate that they were worn by a woman whose family enjoyed great wealth and status.

This uchikake abounds with auspicious and wedding symbolism. There are the traditional crane and tortoise, symbols of long life, the pair of cranes, an allusion to the married couple, and the pine, plum and bamboo, or shochikubai, the so-called ‘three friends of the cold’, symbols of virtue.

The photo above shows a close-up of one of the cranes. What appear to be dots on the wing are actually needle holes. The crane’s wing was black, and the silk threads, mordanted with iron, have disintegrated with time. Beside the crane is a bamboo tree of stenciled shibori. While shibori was more expensive than stenciled shibori, the flat look of stenciled shibori was a style in its own right.

In the photo above, the design woven into the soft, delicate figured satin can be made out. The tasseled faceted box traditionally holds pairs of clam shells. Each matching pair of clam shells is painted on the inside with matching miniature designs. The clam shells are scattered on the floor, and the object of the game is to match the clam shells. Since no two clam shells are exactly alike, they will only align with their original partner, making the clam shell game an apt metaphor for the newly married couple.

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