Nagabakama (long hakama)
Asa, whalebone, koyori (paper thread)
Edo komon (small scale stenciling); pigment, hand painted
For formal occasions, samurai might wear hakama (divided skirt) whose legs were so long as to actually trail behind the wearer. Because of the resulting difficulty of navigation, the effect of the extra length was not only to promote the slow, dignified movement appropriate to a formal occasion, but also to impede possible assassination attempts. In this two piece ensemble, called a kamishimo (literally, upper and lower), the length of the kataginu from neck to waist is approximately 28 inches, while the length of the hakama from waist to hem is 64 inches.
Above, the legs have been pulled to their widest to give some idea of the volume of fabric. These are close to 20 inches wide.
Below, the kataginu has been lifted in order to better show the length of the hakama. The front of the kataginu (unseen) has light paper reinforcement; the winged shape of the kataginu is maintained by long, thin, flexible material. In some instances bamboo is used; in this case whale bone has been employed.
This angled piece goes against the small of the back. The Edo komon material is wrapped around a light, hard wooden core, probably paulownia. The folds at each side are typical of hakama.
Below is a close-up of the crest on the folded front of the kataginu. Note the fine paint work on the crest.
Here, the fact that the fibers are obscured unevenly by the color indicates that pigment, not dye, has been applied.
Below, a kabuki actor in the role of a samurai in billowing nagabakama that trail behind him. For an earlier posting on koyori kamishimo, click here.