Woman’s wedding kimono with “three friends of winter” design
Silk; damask
Centimetres: 182.5 (length)
1700-1749 AD
Early Modern; Edo; 18th century AD
Royal Ontario Museum

The kimono is the traditional Japanese garment for both males and females. The original form of today’s kimono, “kosode”, or short-sleeve, dates to the thirteenth to fourteenth century AD. The forms of kimono have greatly changed throughout its long history. During the Edo period (AD 1603-1867), the sleeves of the women’s kimono became longer, and at times the bottom edge of the sleeves almost reached the ground. The longer sleeves were a reaction against the frequent bans of luxuries issued by the feudal government. The patterns and colours of kimonos were restrained; the only exception was the wedding kimonos. They were lavishly patterned and decorated, like this one, with varied techniques of weaving, dyeing, and embroidery. The pine, bamboo, and prunus are a favourite set of motifs for wedding kimonos. Known as the “three friends of winter”, they represent longevity and happiness.

This kimono was probably worn as an outer garment, as its hem is heavily padded. It is made from a flower-patterned damask of vivid vermilion and richly decorated with resist-dyeing and gold-thread embroidery. The resist-dyeing method is called “shibori”, in which pattern areas are reserved through use of pleating, compressing, or stitching. The most elaborate type of “shibori” technique creates patterns with units of tiny dots, as seen in this kimono, and requires great skill and patience from the workmen.

Coatdress

1830-1940

Georgia

In Georgia, Jewish women dressed like their neighbors. Until the early twentieth century, traditional attire was the norm, though fabrics and colors differed from one region to another. With the gradual penetration of European influences, traditional garments began to reflect Western styles. Since the early twentieth century, traditional outfits have been primarily reserved for ceremonial occasions and worn mostly by older women.

Three main types of ceremonial coatdresses worn by Georgian Jewish women at the turn of the twentieth century are known to us. These front-fastening dresses were always worn over a long chemise-like gown. The chemise was fashioned of silk and trimmed around the neck-opening with a gilt metal thread ribbon that showed through the outer dress. The first was a coatdress typical of the capital, Tbilisi. These tended to be made of exquisite silk fabrics, finely worked and densely quilted. Red and green, as in the outfit shown here, are a very common color combination seen all over Central Asia and the Middle East.

The second type was the Ottoman-influenced brocaded silk coatdress (called okrus kaba, “the golden dress”), which originated in Akhaltsikhe, a Georgian town near the Turkish border. The typical cut of these dresses, contrasting a thin waist with widening hips, emphasized by additional inner padding, was common throughout Central Asia.

The third style, worn in winter, was a felted woolen coatdress with a fur inner lining that adorned the full length of the dress’s opening. The trimmed slits and cuffs of the roomy sleeves, decorated with black silk or gilt cord couched embroidery, are a prominent and characteristic feature in all three types of coatdresses.

Two typical accessories accompanying the Georgian outfit are the headdress and the ribbon waistband. The headdress includes sidelocks made of human hair (luknebi) held by an embroidered velvet forehead band (chikhticopi) covered with a tulle kerchief. The waistband (sartkeli), a rare early-nineteenth-century object, consists of two satin silk ribbons embroidered with gilt metal thread and was worn over the dress, looking like a slit apron. The bright, colorful coatdresses were worn by younger women on ceremonial occasions. As women grew older, they were likely to choose coatdresses of darker, more sober colors, such as blue, brown, and black.

The Israel Museum