Obi (sash for kimono), womens, silk, maker unknown, Japan, 1947
The Japanese obi, a sash for kimono, including the maru, fukuro, and the nagoya obi, is the most important accessory of the Japanese kimono. This obi is the most formal type and is called 'maru obi'. It is worn on occasions such as weddings, and was traditionally worn with formal attire such as the five-crested 'tomesode', 'furisode' and 'homongi' kimonos. The 'maru obi' is broad (a classic 'maru obi' measures 33 cm wide) and long, with both sides fully brocaded and patterned end to end. In contrast, the less formal 'fukuro obi' is only brocaded 60% of its length on one side and the back may be lined with a plain silk, making it less expensive and less bulky to wear than the 'maru obi'.
The obi for women was not a part of the kimono ensemble until the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), when the 'kosode' kimono took on the form it has today. Obi for women then became wider and the way in which they were tied changed. Prior to this, both men and women tied their obi to the side, back or front depending on personal choice. During the Edo period, obi came to be tied in front by both men and women.
Curator, Asian Arts & Design
This obi (sash for kimono) is the most formal type of obi which is called 'maru obi' and was made in Japan in 1947. It is worn on the most formal occasions such as weddings. 'Maru obi' is broad ( a classic 'maru obi' measures 33 cm wide) and long, with both sides fully brocaded and patterned end to end whereas a similar obi such as 'fukuro obi' is only brocaded 60% of its length on one side. The back of the 'fukuro obi' may be lined with plain silk, making it less expensive and less bulky to wear than the 'maru obi.'
The obi for women was not a part of the kimono ensemble until the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868). It was then that the obi attracted the attention of designers and weavers who produced obi in a wide range of widths, colours, elaborate designs and dyes.
This obi was originally owned by Mrs East, wife of Colonel Colin East of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. It was presented to her by the Mayor of Fukuyama, Japan on her arrival in that city in December 1947.
In 2006, the obi was sent to Mr Tsukasa Kawada, Consul-General of Japan in Sydney by Carolyn Moore on behalf of her husband's aunt, Mrs Shirley East. Mrs East wanted to return the obi to the Japanese people as a token of her respect and affection, so sent them to Consulate-General of Japan in Sydney. However, Mr Kawada wished them to be cared for by the Powerhouse Museum.