Kosode (part of wedding ensemble?)
Black figured silk (rinzu), silk padding
Embroidery, metallic paperbacked thread, yuzen dyeing (dyes and pigments)

This may be one of a set of three garments in a wedding set. The layers would have been red, black and white. The back of the garment, above, is completely without decoration. The front of the garment, below, has a minimum of decoration, and that at the hem. This is likely from the Meiji period.

Interestingly, while kimonos with minimal designs tend to concentrate designs on the left side of the hem (since the left side is draped over, and hides, the right side), in this piece, the only decorations are on the right side.

Even the flowers in the lining are on the right side of the lining (below).

There are two varieties of flowers: the chrysanthemum and the paulownia, both of which are closely associated with the imperial aristocracy, and viewed as auspicious symbols.

In the photo below, the paulownia is represented luxuriously: The leaves are rendered in delicate yuzen dyeing, with highlights in metallic thread, the flowers in small white silk embroidery thread, and the vines are colored with pigments, and occasional glints on metallic thread.

Below the petals of the large chrysanthemum are painted in sumi. Its center is rendered in French knots, with small accents around it in pink pigment. To its left is a green pigmented leaf; to its right are pink and green blossoms with touches of metallic thread. Under the large chrysanthemum are six small “manju” (“bean jam bun”) chrysanthemums, barely described as circles in blue pigment, each with a single white silk stitch at the center.

The family crest, one of many variations on the paulownia crest, is stenciled and hand painted.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Hitoe
Double kasuri
Ramie (jofu)

This unlined kimono is so transparent that it is easy to see where the material overlaps. The design is very understated, but everything lines up exactly – not only vertically and horizontally, but diagonally as well.

To ensure that the hitoe stays closed, these two ties (below) were added at the collar beneath the breast. The stitchwork that secures them to the hitoe has to be strong but doesn’t need visual appeal, as the ties would be hidden by the casual obi worn over them.

In the top photograph, even from a distance the designs can be made out to some degree. Yet in the close up below, no part of the designs is more than two threads thick, and many parts are only one thread thick.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Hitoe
Silk
Stenciled warps, tie-dyed wefts (?)

This amusing dragonfly motif enjoyed some popularity in the early 20th century, and was combined with other designs for variety. Bright & Daring, catalogue of an exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, shows similar dragonflies on an orange checked background. Here they share the ground with a traditional design of rippling water.

The water and dragonflies are both so stylized and abstracted as to appear almost brick-like from a distance, adding to the viewer’s pleasure and surprise on coming closer. The bright colors and very long sleeves indicate that this would have been worn by a young woman.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Hitoe
Silk
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

The motif called “polka dots” in English is called “mizutama”, or “water droplets” in Japanese, and can be traced back hundreds of years in Japanese textile design. Here novelty is introduced by the different sizes, colors and seemingly random placement of the dots, as well as by their ‘shadows’.

In many societies worldwide, the color purple was once reserved for royalty. It was difficult to harvest from natural sources, so it was rare and very expensive. Following the advent of chemical dyes in the 19th century, purple, a color with a very deep appeal, was no longer restricted to the very wealthy, and became very popular.

The sleeves, one of which is shown above, are interesting because they have been carelessly – and temporarily – shortened with folds at the bottom, held in place with basting stitches. Little of the sleeve is cropped out of the photograph, and it is clear that more than a third of the sleeve has been folded up, so these were originally the very long sleeves prevalent in the Taisho period. Evidently the sleeves were meant to be taken down again, or they would simply have been cut and resewn. Instead it seems this hitoe was put away as is, and never worn again.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Stencil
Paper, persimmon tannin, thread

The images on this stencil have various meanings. Often the mimasu, or triple nesting boxes, conjure up the family crest of Ichikawa Danjuro, one of the most famous names in Kabuki, whose name has been handed down to his successors for generations. The ebi no maru, or prawn in a circle, is a very popular design as well as a family crest.

The purse and inro are often associated with wealth. For some more information on the chambered inro, see the Wikipedia entry here.

The hat is shaped like a monk’s hat (takuhatsugasa), but is more likely the hat of invisibility, one of the seven treasures. The cross in the circle is a horse’s bit, and was also used as the family crest of the powerful Shimazu family. The scattered plant motifs are pines.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Man’s kimono
Silk, waste silk padding
Edo komon (small stenciling)

Over the course of the Edo period (1603 – 1867), numerous sumptuary laws were enacted to prevent ruinous spending on luxurious clothing, but sumptuary laws also served the purpose of preserving the rigid social heirarchy, as clothing details were proscribed along class lines.

From a distance, this gray kimono with a simple blue lining (colors were also subject to sumptuary laws) looks appropriately somber, but on closer inspection it is covered with minuscule hole-punched cloves from a paper stencil. The minute designs (called Edo komon) would have been time consuming and costly, deliberately subverting the sumptuary laws against lavish spending and conspicuous consumption while appearing to be in keeping with them. (Above tape measure in centimeters.)

Cloves were one of the so-called seven treasures. In the 16th and 17 centuries, it is said that cloves, newly discovered in the Spice Islands, cost their weight in gold. The crest, one of three on this kimono, indicating a level of formality, is painted in sumi ink.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Bedding (?) fragment
Cotton
Double kasuri

In Japanese lore, the rabbit in the moon pounds mochi – soft rice cakes – with a mortar and pestle.

The clouds, below, include vertical and horizontal stripes in double kasuri, but the rest of the design is in weft kasuri.

The vertical and horizontal stripes consist of pale blue threads; the rabbit, crescent moon, mortar and pestle, and most of the clouds consist of white threads.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Hitoe
Silk and rayon (?)
Warp kasuri with hand tie-dyed wefts

This lightweight unlined hitoe is summer wear, but the bush clover motif is closely associated with autumn. The Japanese are keenly in tune with their natural surroundings, and are familiar with the seasonality of local plants. Because of the heat and humidity of Japanese summers, it was thought that one way to stave off the oppressive heat would be to think of the coming cooler autumn months, and the bush clover, among other autumn plants, evokes the crisper weather ahead.

The bright colors of this hitoe would have been appropriate for a young unmarried woman, and the large designs and exaggerated sleeve length date it to the early part of the twentieth century.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Kimono
Silk, cotton (lining)
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

The nature of basic weaving – the one on one interaction of warps and wefts – is such that it encourages stripes and plaids. These are accomplished by simply changing the color of a group of warps and/or a group of wefts, usually at set intervals. It is a fast, effective and economical way of introducing additional colors and designs.

This kimono is almost tongue-in-cheek because it first tempts the eye to register “plaid”, and then confuses the eye by not following the rigidly straight lines made by warps and wefts we are accustomed to. In all of these photos, it is clear that the design is completely independent of the warps and wefts. The artist emphasizes this by making some of the lines almost wavy, and creating odd angles that would be impossible to produce using the traditional yarn-dye method.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Kosode (kimono with small sleeve openings)
Chijimi silk, plain silk lining, paper-backed gold thread
Embroidery, shibori dyeing

This fragile kosode most likely belonged to a member of the military aristocracy. The design seems to recall the Noh play, Tsutsumi no Taki – Waterfall of Drums. Literary allusions were popular themes among the aristrocracy, challenging viewers to identify the origins of the design.

This would have been a very luxurious piece, befitting a person of high social rank. The outer material is dyed a deep safflower, and gold couching throughout.

In the photo above, there is clear damage to the gold couching near the waist, probably due to friction with the obi, showing that this kosode was worn repeatedly.

The close-up of the drum tassel shows some of the the finely detailed and expertly executed embroidery.

In another touch of luxury, the large stones were outlined in luxurious materials. Above, one stone was satin-stitched in safflower-dyed silk thread.

Another stone was outlined in gold couching.

This stone appears to have been dyed in honmurasaki, a favorite purple dye that was also prohibitively expensive.

Above, where some of the couching has come loose, the black underdrawings can be seen.

In the above photo, much of the black thread is missing, probably disintegrated by the iron mordant that made the color possible. Instead, the delicate holes of the embroidery work are visible.

Below, a slight crinkling in the fabric can be seen. This is due to differences in the twisting of the threads.

Use of Photographs from Daily Japanese Textile

Daily Japanese Textile welcomes use of its photographs on other sites as long as Daily Japanese Textile is credited and hyperlinked. Please check to see that your computer links photos to Daily Japanese Textile, and not to your own site, as sometimes happens automatically. Thank you!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 354 other followers