kusudama

What’s In a Kimono? Part 7

This one was requested by an anonymous reader and, although not outwardly showy, this piece tells quite a story.

Name: Irobana (色花) - Colored Flowers
Type: Kurotomesode (黒留袖) and/or Hikizuri (引き摺り)
Time Period: Early Showa (1930 - 1945)
Age: 72 - 87 Years Old (Antique)
Condition: Very Good - Some Staining
Material: Silk
Motif(s): Kusudama
Execution and Technique: Painting Skills and Embroidery
Value: $150 - $200 USD

Before I go down the list of what’s what I need to explain the issue of kimono, especially ones like these, from the Early Showa Period. There were many hold overs from the Taisho Period (1912 - 1926) such as red lining, painterly designs, and long sleeves. However, the motifs displayed showed a great amount of Western influence. While this is something that I’ve gone over before as well I do need to highlight why this is such a big issue. Take a second and look at where the motif ends. I know that it’s slightly obscured by one of the sleeves, but you may have noticed that it goes beyond where the collar meets the hem. Since the Meiji Period (1867 - 1912) this design style fell out of favor with the common people and was seen mostly on geisha as they’re one of the only professions that wear a kimono whose hem is almost always visible. But, fast forwarding to the Early Showa we start to see some examples of what basically amounts to a hybrid: a kimono meant to be worn by a common woman that has the characteristics of a hikizuri. This issue is still being dealt with today as it can be quite hard to definitively say who this kimono was meant for. On one hand the motifs are large, cover most of the hem, and extend past the bottom of the collar like a hikizuri. But, its hem doesn’t have the standard hikizuri ratio of 55 - 60% and its hiyoku has been changed out at least once in favor of a plainish, cream colored one, which seems far too simple for a geisha.

Leaving that mystery to stew for now, let’s talk about what we can say with complete confidence about this piece. We know from its short sleeves and black color that it’s a Kurotomesode (黒留袖) or Kuromontsuki (黒紋付), since both terms are correct. Kurotomesode refers to it being a black tomesode; that is, a short sleeved kimono that has no pattern above the mid line and is considered to be of the highest formality. Kuromontsuki refers to the garment being black and possessing kamon. We know that it’s for a woman as the sleeves are open at the underarms. The main motif is Kusudama (薬玉), which are balls made from flowers and potpourri that were traditionally hung in young girl’s rooms to ward off bad luck. The crowning point of a kusudama was its tassel as this was where you showed off how much money you had. Normal people may have had some small string hanging down while rich people had intricate tassels. In this case, all of the kusudama have extremely long and luxurious tassels signifying that its of the best quality.

As for condition, overall it’s quite good but you may notice some oshiroi on the collar; that’s because I did wear this to Anime North and wore oshiroi that didn’t stay within the confines of my eri. Besides that, there’s some light fading on the inside lining, but overall it’s wearable. 

Going back to the hikizuri/tomesode debate there’s one final issue to look at. What this piece does possess that can’t really be seen too well from this image is embroidery, which is normally found on kimono that aren’t kurotomesode. The embroidery is so fine that it’s hard to differentiate it from the painting. This fine embroidery has been a staple of formal geiko hikizuri for a long time, so this is another point in the hikizuri’s favor. However, even though there’s more evidence for it being a hikizuri than not, we can’t definitely say that it is, so the best we can do is to say that it’s a hybrid that could have been used in either form. Due to the uncertainty the price reflects what would be expected of a very nice Early Showa kurotomesode.

Good morning all! I’ll probably be doing a lot of cleaning today (ugh) but hopefully afterward I can finally finish reading My Lady Jane! 💜💗💜💗 For now, here’s the #bluebooks tag tagged by @signourney and @paperfury, thank you! Here’s some Dickens blue for you guys. And this is probably my favorite #kusudama flower! 💙💙💙💙💙

Grad student bride WIN

Making a gorgeous kusudama-flower bridal bouquet (that doubles as a nice eco-friendly wedding favour) from cut-up pieces of incomprehensible scholarly articles that you were forced to print out for coursework research and now have no use for.

I feel like I would be a bad student if I didn’t properly cite my bouquet… So in case anyone’s interested:

Peter J. Pels, “The Spirit of Matter: On Fetish, Rarity, Fact and Fancy.” In Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces, ed. Patricia Spyer (New York: Routledge, 2001), 91-121.

Peter J. Pels, “Magical Things: On Fetishes, Commodities and Computers.” In The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies, ed. D. Hicks and M.C. Beaudry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 613-33.

Ming-Bao Yue, “Nostalgia for the Future: Cultural Revolution Memory in Two Transnational Chinese Narratives.” The China Review 5, no. 2 (Autumn 2005), 43-63.

3

Bascetta Star designed by Paolo Bascetta

Instructions

This is one of my favorite models and it’s really easy to make. If you like these little guys you should check out penguinorigami. He works with this unit a lot and posts some amazing work.