This jade green (chirimen) silk (kosode) cloak, was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli from Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2017 to enhance the collection of The Zay Initiative
This is a chirimen silk kosode cloak in jade green with printed hand-embroidered embellishments executed in (satin_stitch) and (couching) techniques.
The field of the kososde is printed with landscape scenery executed in (katazome_print) depicting mountain peaks emerging from the clouds and the space between the peaks covered with floral motifs suggesting the dense forest covering the valley beneath where the cloud is clear.
These floral motifs suggesting the forest are mostly embroidered in satin_stitch style with silk floss threads in a variety of colours like plum, dark and olive green, yellow, and coral.
The mountains are executed by the couching embroidery technique primarily in metal foil threads, possibly gold and silver. Silk floss threads are also used to depict the mountains in the same technique. The rolling clouds and the streaks in the sky are depicted by couching technique in metal foil threads. This couching technique is similar to the Arab (talli).
It also features five crests three on the back and two in front which suggests that this kosode was used for extremely formal occasions. The lining of the piece is a satin fabric dyed in a rich shade of ivory and (coral) in (shibori) technique with padding at the bottom hem.
It is worth noting that the traditional Japanese (kimono) has its roots in the Heian Period (794-1185 CE) and was initially influenced by Chinese fashion, particularly the (hanfu). The aristocratic garments were made up of an outer coat called oosode – with big sleeves – an inner layer known as kosode – with small sleeves – and loose trousers.
Noblewomen wore a multiple-layered formal court dress. By the Muromachi period – 1336-1573 CE – the kosode was worn without the trousers and was tied at the waist with a waistband or (obi) instead. The practicality of smaller sleeves especially allowing ease of movement encouraged the samurai to adopt the kososde as their formal outerwear.
Eventually, the kosode became clothing for common people as well. The kimono, as we know it today, was established by the Azuchi-Momoyama period – 1568-1600 CE. During the Edo period – 1603-1867 CE – there was a rise in literacy, agricultural productivity, and urban development, leading to the increase in the wealthy merchant class and their patronage of the arts. This led to further development in the style of the kosode. It was updated with longer sleeves for unmarried women with asymmetric designs featuring large patterns.
In the Meiji period – 1868-1912 CE – the social class system was abolished, and the kosode was renamed kimono. Western culture was introduced to Japan, and while Japanese men adopted Western clothing, Japanese women were encouraged to continue wearing kimono.
While the origin of certain techniques and methods in textiles like satin_stitch embroidery can be traced to China, and its spread across the world could be attributed to the Silk Road, other similar techniques and styles are believed to have originated independently in different regions of the world almost simultaneously in human history possibly from necessity and convenience.
Though The Zay Initiative is concerned mainly with the dress and adornment heritage of the Arab world, it does include in its collection articles from areas outside the region. These tend to be collected to illustrate specific shared elements and influences attesting that the Arab world never existed in a vacuum. It constantly drew, and continues to draw, inspiration and influences from the cultures it comes in contact with be it through trade or geopolitical circumstances, especially those countries within the old silk route.
Therefore, one cannot but draw parallels between many techniques used in such garments, such as (couching) and thread knotting techniques (macrame), or flat metal adornment (talli), that are quite similar to those found in different parts of the Arab region.
The kimono, in particular, displays similarities that can be drawn with the pattern of Arab women’s overgarment or the (thawb), common to the Gulf region, constructed of three uncut panels of broad clothes forming the central body panel and the side sleeve panels very similar in shape to the kimono.
- Morishima, Yuki, et al. Kimono Refashioned: Japan’s Impact on International Fashion. USA, Asian Art Museum, 2018.
- Kahlenberg, Mary Hunt. Asian Costumes and Textiles: From the Bosphorus to Fujiama. Italy, Skira, 2001.
- Liddell, Jill. The Story of the Kimono. USA, E P Dutton, 1989.
- Dalby, Liza Crihfield. Kimono: Fashioning Culture. Reaktion Books, 1993.
- Gluckman, Dale Carolyn and Sharon Sadako Takeda. When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996.
- Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. 27 Aug. – 25 Oct. 2020, V&A South Kensington, London https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/kimono-kyoto-to-catwalk
- Gluckman, Dale Carolyn. “Liza Dalby. Kimono: Fashioning Culture.:Kimono: Fashioning Culture.” Museum Anthropology, vol. 19, no. 1, Mar. 1995, pp. 79–81. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1525/mua.19188.8.131.52
- “Meisen Kimono From HALI 184 – HALI.” HALI, 24 July 2015, hali.com/news/meisen-kimono.
- Kimono Style: Edo Traditions to Modern Design: The John C. Weber Collection. USA, Met Publications, www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Kimono_Style
- Kimono Refashioned. 8 Feb. – 5 May, 2019, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco https://exhibitions.asianart.org/exhibitions/kimono-refashioned/
- Takeda, Sharon Sadako. Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 49, no. 2, 1994, pp. 245–47. JSTOR,https://doi.org/10.2307/2385177. Accessed 10 May 2023.
- Guth, Christine. Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, 1994, pp. 518–22. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/133209. Accessed 10 May 2023.
- Richard, Naomi Noble. “Nō Motifs in the Decoration of a Mid-Edo Period Kosode.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 25, 1990, pp. 175–83. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/1512899. Accessed 10 May 2023.
- Kramer, Elizabeth. “Review of ‘Kimono: A Modern History.’” Reviews in History, School of Advanced Study, 2015. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.14296/rih/2014/1787.