Kimono and wrapping cloth (furoshiki), womens, resist dyed and embroidered, crepe / silk, maker unknown, Japan, 1900-1948
This kimono, obi and wrapping cloth are an important addition to the Museum¬?s holdings of Japanese dress. Traditional dress is one of the richest expressions of material culture and defines cultural identity.
The kimono is one of the most recognisable of national costumes. This stylised and colourful kimono and the exquisite fabric of the obi express the aesthetic sensibilities, culture and customs of the people of Japan. Over time, the Japanese people have adopted a more western style of dress, yet the kimono is still worn by many as a form of official national dress for weddings and important ceremonies. The kimono is a culturally and socially significant form of dress revealing the gender, class and identity of the wearer.
The style of the kimono has changed minimally over time, evolving to better fit lifestyles in contemporary Japanese society. The kimono and obi remain an important feature of Japanese dress worn on special occasions, festivals and significant holidays.
The word kimono literally means ¬?something worn¬? and is the traditional costume of Japan. The kimono has had a long history in Japan with the style of the kimono changing over time to reflect contemporary culture and society. The style of the kimono in the T-shape is thought to have originated during the Heian period (749-1192). Prior to 794, Japanese people wore separate upper and lower clothing.
The development of the straight-line-cut method during the Heian period resulted in improved kimono making techniques. The T-shape of the straight line cut kimono is a versatile design with many advantages. It is easy to fold, suitable for all weather conditions as it can be worn in layers to provide warmth in winter and made of light weight fabric in summer. It is comfortable to wear and the one size adjusts to different body shapes.
The kimono is a T-shaped, straight lined robe that falls to the ankle with full-length sleeves that drape from the wrist. The kimono is wrapped around the body, always left side over the right and secured with an obi. An obi is the belt that secures the kimono to the body.
The kimono is generally worn with traditional footwear known as geta (thonged wood platform sandals) and tabi (split toe socks). An undergarment known as nagajuban (shorter kimono) is worn beneath the kimono.
There are strict rules governing the wearing of the kimono according to a person¬?s age, gender, marital status, the season or the nature of an event to be attended. This kimono characterised by the vibrant colours and exuberant patterning was probably designed for a young unmarried woman. Young unmarried women wear kimono with long sleeves called furisode (swinging sleeve). The sleeve length can vary in length from quite long to ankle length. Older women or those who have married wear a kimono with short sleeves called tomesode. The designs are smaller or solid and the colours more subdued.
A combination of different techniques was used in the production of this kimono: yuzen resist-dye, shibori and embroidery. The images on this kimono are created using the technique called yuzen which involves drawing the pattern on the cloth with rice paste extruded through a metal tip attached to a cloth bag. The paste forms a protective coating that prevents the colour penetrating when the dyes are applied. An advantage of yuzen dyeing is that very precise and thin lines can be achieved and a beautiful blurring effect with gradation in colour is also a desirable characteristic. Traditional naturalistic or abstract design motifs including flowers and trees are a feature of yuzen dyeing. Technical advantages of the yuzen dyeing process include colour stability, water resistance and a wide range of fabrics can be used and their characteristics are retained after dyeing.
Kanoko shibori (fawn dapple) is a dyeing technique which produces a pattern of small spots. Tiny pinches of fabric are twisted up and tightly bound with thread before the piece is dyed. After dyeing, the threads are removed, leaving tiny dye-reserved rings of white around spots of colour. The shibori dyeing is a painstaking process requiring meticulous attention to detail.
The tradition of adding embroidered highlights to woven and dyed designs is still seen on Japanese costume today.
The use of the family crest or mon dates back to the early 11th century-late Heian period. The crest played an important role in battle in distinguishing between allies and enemies. The crest generally denoted the male of the family and identified family members. Stylised flowers, birds and animal motifs are the designs most commonly used for mon. The family crest usually remains unchanged through successive generations.
Mon are typified by a monochromatic and simple stylised design. The mon on this kimono features a floral motif. A single crested kimono displays the mon at the mid-back seam just below the collar. A three-crested garment adds two crests to the back of the sleeves and a five-crested kimono add two more to the front of the garment, placed just below the collar bone. This kimono is an example of a single-crested garment.
The furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. It has a variety of uses such as transporting goods, decorative wrapping for gifts, it can be worn as a clothing accessory and so on. Furoshiki are generally square in shape and sizes range from approximately 20cm-240cm. The modern furoshiki is typically made from cotton, rayon, silk or wool, decorated in a wide variety of traditional or modern patterns and designs and may include the family crest (mon). There are a number of wrapping styles that can be used to wrap a variety of different shapes.
The name furoshiki means ¬?bath spread¬? and derives from the Edo period practice of using the cloth to store clothes while at the public baths (sento). The function of the furoshiki eventually extended to merchants who would use it to protect and transport goods or to decorate a gift.
The post-war period saw a decline in furoshiki as plastic bags became the carrier of choice. In recent years, concerns about the negative impact plastic bags have on the environment has resulted in renewed interest in furoshiki as a ¬?green¬? alternative. This furoshiki is made from chirimen crepe which is a wavy, wrinkled crepe silk fabric produced by twisting the threads while weaving.
This kimono and wrapping cloth (furoshiki) was originally gifted to the donor's brother-in-law Arthur Manefield (1923-2006). Arthur Manefield was based at Kure, a city located in the Hiroshima prefecture of Japan, at the end of World War 11 as a member of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) from 1946-1948. The BCOF was responsible for overseeing the recovery of the Japanese economy and supervising demilitarization and the disposal of Japan's war industries from 1946-1951.
Arthur's role in the BCOF involved ensuring that 'incentive goods' like tyres, rubber goods, wool blankets and food were fairly distributed to the Japanese people. 'Incentive goods' were offered to encourage the Japanese nation to re-establish their economy and reduce dependence on America by fulfilling quotas aimed at increasing production of cereals, rice and potatoes.
The kimono and furoshiki was a farewell gift to Arthur from a wealthy Japanese family with whom he¬?d become quite friendly. It was quite unusual for a member of the occupation forces to enjoy friendly relations with the Japanese people at that time. Arthur gave the kimono to his mother on his return to Australia. The donor subsequently inherited the kimono from her mother-in-law.