purple kosode back Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9778

Silk, cotton (collar lining)
Yuzen, stenciling, hand painting with sumi

This five crested kosode for formal occasions is still unfinished inside the collar, and so appears never to have been worn. Although this is a very subdued piece, it is highly luxurious, and would have been made for a young woman of considerable wealth and social status. The design marks this as a late Edo kosode, when social stratification was still rigidly enforced. Members of the merchant class were placed at the lowest rung of society, yet their wealth made them socially powerful. Mutually beneficial marriages took place between socially elite but financially strapped members of the military aristocracy and wealthy members of the merchant class. Although members of the merchant class were barred from wearing silk by sumptuary laws, these laws were often flouted.

purple kosode front Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9785

The theme of large rocky outcroppings was very popular in Edo period yuzen, with shades and indentations in the rocks often embroidered in. Below, the center seam is visible. The left and right panels match up nearly exactly. Most kimono are designed so that left and right panels do not need to match up because of the extra time, labor, skill and cost that would be required.

purple kosode back detail Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9781

Here the shades and indentations have been dyed. In this photograph, it’s clear that this is a summer kosode in ro weave. This is a looser, airy weave which allows more air passage during the hot summer months.

purple kosode rock detail Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9783

The feathers on the white plover have been painted in with sumi ink; those on the blue plover have been resisted with very finely drawn paste resist.

purple kosode plovers Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9769

This crest bridges the center seam, and so had to be prepared on two separate panels and sewn together, requiring careful coordination for the whole thing to come together, as noted above. Even so, ideally, only one set of gaps would be seen between the leaves, not two.

purple kosode crest Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9792