1680s

2

Furisode.  Mid to late Meiji period (1880-1911), Japan.  The Kimono Gallery.  A chirimen (crepe) silk furisode featuring yuzen-dyeing, silk and metallic thread highlights. Five mon. The peacock is associated with the Japanese goddesses of mercy. In the Buddhist tradition, the peacock’s ability to eat poisonous snakes can be understood as a symbol of the transmutation of evil into good. It is also considered the representation of true beauty. The green peacock is said to have been introduced into Japan in the year 1680. As the flower of summer, the peony has always been regarded as a symbol of magnificent wealth, fortune and prosperity to the extent that it is sometimes known as the ‘king of flowers”. The peony has a lush, full, and beautiful bloom suggesting luxury and opulence and has become an emblem of regal power in Japan. Rich in color and beauty, the peony was regarded as the flower of riches and honor, associated with aristocracy and prosperity. The peony is the rose without thorns, and so embodies romance and love, and is regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage as well. The depiction of a phoenix or peacock among flowering peonies is a decorative motif that dates to at least the eighth century in China. In Japan, Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), the foremost woodblock artist of his day, specialized in scenes of birds and flowers: the peacock with peonies was a favorite subject for Hiroshige. Hiroshige’s art was very popular among the wealthy of Japan during the 19th century, and likely inspired the extraordinary artwork on this furisode. The conjunction of the auspicious peacock and peony motifs enhances the furisode’s function and is an indication of the gender and high status of its wearer.