This elegant dress (furisode_kimono) was gifted to Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli from Athbah Al Kalamchi, her sister-in-law. It was originally an heirloom handed down from her grandparents and belonged possibly to the period between c.1930 – 1950.
Athbah Al Kalamchi was born 1959 in Lebanon and grew up in Iraq. She graduated with BS in economics from Baghdad university. Married to an Italian she moved to Italy in 1990 where she continues to reside with her only son Omar.
Athbah’s maternal grandfather Dhafir Rashid Al Zahawi had professional ties in China and the Far East. He constantly travelled back and forth to the Far East and this item was bought in one of his several trips there.
This is a beautiful furisode_kimono in light blue (chirimen) silk. It is filled with large floral motifs executed with (yuzen_print). The lining of the piece too is yuzen_printed with floral motifs.
The field of the furisode_kimono is filled with large chrysanthemums and peonies in ivory, and pink with yellow highlights and green foliage around them. While chrysanthemums symbolise royalty, longevity, and rejuvenation, peonies symbolise honour and good fortune. The lining of the piece is also filled with chrysanthemum motifs in several shades of blue on an ivory chirimen fabric executed in yuzen_printing technique.
The lining has been thoroughly damaged especially around the seams testifying its years of service.
It is interesting to note that from the early Edo period – 1603-1868 – furisode_kimono characterized by their long sleeves had become the standard formal wear for unmarried women. The use of green and pink in this piece testifies that this furisode_kimono was made for an unmarried woman’s springtime wardrobe.
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.
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