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Woman's Robe (kimono)

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Japan Anonymous, Japanese
Woman's Robe (kimono), 1920-1940
Silk
57 in. x 53 in. (144.78 cm x 134.62 cm)


Object Type: Textile
Technique: Woven
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Accession Number: T671


Medium
Hand-drawn yuzen dyeing on crepe (chirimen) silk.

Object Description
A woman’s silk crepe kimono that is black in its top half and shades to a sand color in the bottom half. It is decorated with a painted pattern of maple leaves, pine needles, fans, chrysanthemums, lanterns, boats, and clouds. The designs are painted in soft pastels of purple, coral, pale green, white, pale yellow, and brown. There is some satin-stitch embroidery in shades of coral, white, purple, blue, and pale green that serves to catch the light and provide texture. Couched gold-wrapped threads are used minimally to outline some designs. There is some basting in white thread around the waist, but it would have been hidden by an obi. The kimono is lined in orange silk.

There are five painted family crests (mon)—one centered between the shoulder blades, and on the front and back shoulder of each sleeve. Each circular crest depicts a “China flower” (karabana), a fictional flower of Chinese design. The design conveyed a sense of elegance and was later used by aristocratic families of the court as a family crest.

This kimono might have been meant for export. The style of the pattern is quite art-deco. Though the sleeves are long, as would have been worn by a young woman, most of the coloring is very dark, such as would be expected in a kimono for an older woman. The design pattern on the kimono, incorporating a bundle of scrolls, a rake for a Zen rock garden, and the usu for making mochi, are very identifiably Japanese, creating an overall Japanese theme for the kimono.

- Written by Anna Gaumond, Scripps '09, Fall 2008; edited by Patricia Yu, Pomona '09, Getty Summer Intern, August 2008.

For more information on crests (mon):

Dower, John W. The Elements of Japanese Design: A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry & Symbolism. New York: Walker/Weatherhill, 1971.

For more information on kimono:

Van Assche, Annie, Ed. Fashioning Kimono: Dress and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Japan. Milan: Five Continents, 2005.

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