This is a genuine Japanese vintage (kimono) made in Japan and was originally a part of the Victoria and Albert Museum collection until 2015. It was restored and put on sale by the V&A where Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli purchased it along with two other kimonos (ZI2015.500745 ASIA, and ZI2015.500746 ASIA) for the Zay Initiative collection.
This is beige (komon_kimono) made of Japanese (chirimen) silk and decorated with landscape motifs and scenes in a typical Oriental – Sino-Japanese / Far Eastern – style. This elegant piece showcases the traditional Japanese craftsmanship of kimono making.
The main fabric of the kimono as mentioned earlier is Japanese crepe silk – a very common fabric for kimonos all over Japan. It is decorated with beautiful landscape motifs and sceneries executed through crisscrossing and overlapping of thin lines. Possibly printed using stencil dyeing or (Katazome_print) technique the lines all over the piece give an illusion of careless brush strokes in (indigo) blue and (crimson) red. Mostly depicting mountains, rolling moors, and coniferous trees possibly momi – the Japanese term for fir – the piece showcases a typical Far Eastern flavour.
A (komon_kimono) like this was traditionally used for casual wear.
Although in a very muted colour, the triple opening in the sleeves, and the broad collar suggest that it is a women’s kimono. A metal snap button set is sewn in the middle of the collar possibly to help keep it folded while wearing it. The original lining of the piece is in ivory satin dyed in an indigo gradient at the bottom hem. The shoulders and the sleeves have an extra layer of lining in the same top fabric.
The entire piece is hand stitched with white silk floss thread which creates a visual element along its hemlines especially the sleeves and the bottom. With a thick fabric, an educated conclusion could be drawn that this piece was possibly made for a mildly cool autumn or spring as kimonos for winter were mostly made of thicker material and were also padded while summer kimonos were mostly constructed of very light materials like cotton and linen.
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 also shows an example of similarities that can be drawn from 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.
Katazome is a traditional Japanese textile printing technique that utilizes stencils to create intricate and detailed designs on fabric. The word “katazome” translates to “stencil dyeing” in English, and the technique involves creating a stencil out of paper or other materials and then applying a resist paste to the fabric through the stencil. Once the paste has dried, the fabric is dyed, and the areas where the resist paste was applied remain undyed, creating a pattern on the fabric.
Katazome stencils are typically made using a combination of hand-carving and off-late machine-cutting techniques. The stencils themselves can be highly detailed, with intricate designs and patterns that can take weeks or even months to create. The resist paste used in katazome can also vary depending on the desired effect, with some pastes being more resistant to dye than others.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), katazome became a popular art form among the common people in Japan, and various regional styles of the technique emerged. In addition to clothing, katazome was used to create a wide range of household items such as curtains, bedding, and tablecloths. The intricate designs and vibrant colours of katazome made it a highly sought-after craft, and the popularity of the technique continued to grow.
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