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Obi, 1900 - 1948
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Object statement
Obi (maru), womens, 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.
An obi is the sash tied around a kimono. It can be tied in a variety of ways ranging from the simple to the elaborate with a complicated style taking up to half an hour to tie. An obi can vary from 30cms wide to 4 metres in length.

The obi conforms to the many rules that characterise Japanese dress. For instance, a formal obi is identifiable by the quality of fabric and density of pattern. This obi of woven brocade silk satin in gold is sumptuously patterned for the entire length of the obi on both sides distinguishing it as a formal obi known as a maru obi. Quality maru obi as exemplified by this obi are rare and highly valued by collectors for the patina and lustre of the gold thread, the beautiful designs and quality of workmanship of the textile.
This obi 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 II 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 obi 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.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Obi (maru), womens, silk, maker unknown, Japan, 1900-1948

A double width obi made in woven brocade silk decorated with a pattern of open and closed fans featuring chrysanthemums, bamboo and geometric motifs in green, blue, orange, pale yellow and mauve on an embroidered gold and beige background.
No marks.
Production date
1900 - 1948
316 mm
6 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of Mrs Betty Manefield, 2007
+ Japanese culture
+ Japanese fashion
+ World War II
+ Traditional technologies
+ Folding fans
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{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/366719 |title=Obi |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=27 February 2017 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}

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Object viewed times. Parent IRN: 2101. Master IRN: 2101 Img: 195226 Flv: H:4210px W:1400px SMO:0 RIGHTS:.