This beautiful light blue and ivory (furisode_kimono) was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli in 2017 from a dealer in Japan, to be added to The Zay Initiative collection.
This is blue and ivory (rinzu) or damask (chirimen) silk woman’s kimono embellished with printed designs in shades of red, yellow and ivory with green and gold highlights. It has long sleeves with triple openings and a metal snap button on the neck to possibly to keep it folded and secure it away from the neck while wearing making it a woman’s furisode kimono.
Large (yuzen_printed) auspicious strips of dried fish and seaweed bundle – noshi – motifs primarily in shades of red, yellow and blue and gold foils curl themselves around the furisode_kimono.
The rinzu damask pattern is in the form of little hexagon repeats all over the field creating an additional layer of design on it. Patches within the noshi bundles are decorated in (shibori) dyed techniques.
There are additional design elements within the noshi bundles such as the holy trinity of Japanese auspicious motifs the pine tree – sho – bamboo – chiko – and plum – bai – executed in (katazome_print) that adds another layer to this furisode. Parts of the design has been highlighted with pressed gold leaf – kinpaku – giving it a very rich look.
The lining of the piece is a plain ivory chirimen with the edges near the hems of the sleeves as well as the fall shibori dyed in a bright shade of orange gradient.
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 multi layered auspicious symbolisms like the seaweed or noshi bundles along with the pine tree – sho – bamboo – chiko – and plum – bai – in this piece suggests that this furisode_kimono was perhaps made for an unmarried woman’s coming of age ceremony.
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.
While the tie-die (shibori) technique is reminiscent of articles found in Arab countries such as (ZI2022.501006.4 SYRIA or ZI2017.500883 SYRIA) in Syria and (ZI2021.500953.12 YEMEN or ZI2021.500953.13 YEMEN) in Yemen.
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 dates back to c. 8th century. Coupled with such examples 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.
- 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.19184.108.40.206
- “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.