Part of a set of five (kimono)s purchased by Dr. Reem El Mutwalli, together from the same source along with (ZI2017.500480 ASIA, ZI2017.500482 ASIA, ZI2017.500483 ASIA, ZI2017.500484 ASIA).
This exquisite (damask) (satin) kimono was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli in 2017 from Ms. Manami Tominaga, a Japanese lady living in the UAE. It was purchased to enhance the Zay Initiative’s collection along with four more (ZI2017.500480 ASIA, ZI2017.500482 ASIA, ZI2017.500483 ASIA, and ZI2017.500484 ASIA).
This is an ivory chirimen (furisode_kimono) in damask weave with wavy purple (shibori) dyed patterns. Like any furisode kimono, this piece has long sleeves.
The field of the piece is shibori dyed creating a series of a rising sun motif in repeats in yellow, red, and green. A purple wavy abstract patch covers the kimono’s shoulders, sleeves, left front, and the hem at the back. This wavy patch is in turn decorated with the pine tree – sho – bamboo – chiko – and plum –bai – all of which are associated with good fortune in Japanese culture. Parts of this purple patch are also embellished with golden metal thread (couching) embroidery, which is held by orange silk floss threads.
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. The lining top part lining is plain ivory (satin) while the bottom, sleeves, and the collar are lined with the same ivory chirimen damask fabric as the kimono but without the shibori. However, it is dyed in a gradient of orange and peach near the bottom of the fall.
There is a metal snap button at the back of the collar possibly to hold it down while wearing.
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 vibrant purple as in this kimono has always been reserved for high-ranking individuals and royalty in Japan, just like anywhere else in the world, however, not in the present. Thus, the use of this colour in this kimono which could have been a c. 20th-century piece testifies that this furisode_kimono was perhaps made for an unmarried woman from a wealthy background.
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.
Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that involves creating intricate patterns on fabric by folding, twisting, and binding it before dying. Unique and beautiful patterns could be created using different binding techniques with different dyes.
Some of the earliest surviving examples of shibori dyed fabrics like the cloth donated by Emperor Shomu to the Todai-ji Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan date back to c. 8th century. Coupled with examples of recorded history such as written descriptions of the art or objects decorated in such art forms support the belief of its origin in Japan.
Initially, it was used to dye silk for the emperors and aristocrats as well as clothes for the commoners. Different shibori techniques like shape resist, pole wrapping, etc involve different methods of binding the fabric before dyeing resulting in unique patterns and textures. One of the most common techniques involves binding sections of the fabric with string or rubber bands to create a resist pattern. The fabric is then dyed, and the areas where the resist was applied remain undyed, creating a pattern.
It can be done with a variety of natural and synthetic dyes, including (indigo). It involves creating a fermented vat of indigo, which is then used to dye the fabric. The fabric is dipped repeatedly in the indigo vat, with each dip creating a darker shade of blue. This traditional practice of using indigo for shibori is quite popular even today.
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