Hitoe
Silk
Stenciled warps and wefts

It is said that after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1926, sales of meisen kimonos (such as this midcentury piece) rose dramatically because people had lost all their clothing in the resulting conflagrations and needed to replace their wardrobes quickly. The meisen stenciling technique and the stiff silk met the people’s immediate demands because they were faster and less expensive to make than more traditional kimonos, yet still attractive. Thematically, they also had a wider range.

This hitoe has something of an experimental, rather than commercial, look about it. These colors are often associated with camouflage, and all the outlines are in white, rather than the traditional black, as if the artist had scraped paint from an impasto painting to reveal the white canvas beneath. The subtlety of the shading and soft edges in the design would seem to indicate some advancements in the stenciling technique, or an additional technique.

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