Archives for category: Japan

Baby kimono
Silk, padded; probably safflower dye
Itajimezome (board clamp resist)

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Shibori Yukata
Cotton
Multiple shibori techniques

Rice Bag (Komebukuro), for a donation or gift of rice
Silk chirimen
Appliqued, hand painted

Kimono
Silk
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

It is interesting to compare this kimono to a woodcut on paper, Circle, dated 1933, by Josef Albers, a leading figure in the Bauhaus movement.

Circle 1933 by Josef Albers 1888-1976

Maiwai (Ceremonial fisherman’s coat)
Cotton
Rice paste resist (tsutsugaki), stencils, hand painted

A maiwai very similar to this one is in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and was published in Reiko Mochinaga Brandon’s excellent book, Country Textiles of Japan (1986, Weatherhill), in conjunction with an exhibition. Brandon’s text for the maiwai reads, in part:

The maiwai was a special ceremonial outer kimono, or jacket, that fishermen of the Boso Peninsula (south of Tokyo) wore to inaugurate the New Year or to celebrate a rich catch… [On this maiwai, three dancer-musicians celebrate a big catch by performing what is probably the Kashima Dance, an auspicious folk dance of the Kanto area… The central figure carries a large Shinto offering of paper in his right hand while he dances. A fan, in his left hand, has written on it in large red characters “Great Catch” (tairyo)…

Child’s kimono for a special occasion with design of prawns
Silk
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

This is not a traditional motif for a either a child’s or an adult’s kimono. Possibly it was originally a juban (under kimono) whose usable parts were salvaged and made into a child’s kimono when it could no longer be worn as a juban. The large and dramatic design seems to place this piece in the Taisho or early Showa periods.

Prawns are associated with long life in Japan. Their rounded backs were reminiscent of the backs of the elderly at a time when few people lived to old age. So strong is this connection that the Japanese character for prawn literally reads ‘old man of the sea’. Because they are symbolic of longevity, prawns are among the dishes comprising osechi ryori – foods traditionally eaten at new year’s to start the year off in an auspicious manner.