Black Silk With Sugar Sweet Flowers And Cranes In Flight
“How many of these do you have?” I hear them asking me, their faces stricken with nervous half smiles, teetering between delight and concern. Haha!
Oh, we haven’t even gotten started yet. I am doing these in chunks by date-ish and then type sort of. Right now I’m working through my formal Pre-WWII items. This is mostly for documentation purposes, and as I move them from one dresser to another. Some of my posts will detail restorations in progress, but many of these were done several years ago and I never bothered to share them.
This is another piece that I acquired domestically, and therefore it does have some condition issues. Now that I say that, I feel the need to clarify that this isn’t to say that I never import items from Japan that have condition issues; that’s not true at all. But the condition issues on vintage and antique items like this that come from here in the USA Vs. the ones that come from their homeland in Japan tend to be very different. People in the US will wash these, have them dry cleaned, hang them in direct sunlight, make bizarre modifications, or store them in a plastic tote in a humid locker somewhere. And that gets weird really fast. I have one that’s been sewn back together with what looks like fishing line. I’m not even kidding. I’ll get to that one in another post.
I think this one was laundered incorrectly. The outer rim of some of the resist dye has started to bleed with a strange sort of watercolor effect that’s too inconsistent to be intentional. It’s not so bad that the whole design is trashed, but it’s also something that I can’t really repair. The good news is that the fabric itself is in fantastic shape. There are two minor runs in the lower part of the right front panel, but I have fixed them so that they do not deteriorate further. The lining is in good condition with no shattering or fraying, but some minor water spots inside of a sleeve that I didn’t bother to take pictures of. (They weren’t interesting, you’ll just have to trust me.)
There are real gold threads that embellish some of the patterns on the left skirt panel. This is called “couching’ in English, but I can’t currently recall what they call it in Japanese. I know I had to redo it. The gold threads were there, but the threads holding them in place had rotted and torn away, leaving the gold to hang. I picked apart the seam nearest to them to repair the couching and reline the shapes. I’m not what anyone would call amazing at couching, but I’m pretty okay at it. It looks much better now.
This is a piece I think sits solidly in the Taisho Era, so 1920’s. It’s hard to believe that the roaring twenties were a hundred years ago now, huh? As an interesting tidbit, it was after the Meiji Restoration that we started to see some INSANE colours exploding into kimono items. To make things stupidly simple, trade with the western world was opened up in the Meiji Era, and so chemical dyes and such became available in Japan, allowing for vibrant, cheerful pieces like this. A huge contrast from the understated pieces from the era before.
I call this one “candy” because so many of the colours just look downright sweet and delicious to me. I could legitimately take a bite out of those botan (peony) blooms. Couldn’t you? We also see delightfully bright and cheerful auspicious themes such as tsuru, matsu (pine), kaede (maple leaves), and nami (waves). They’re a hard contrast against the black shell. This furisode, too, is adorned with five kiri kamon. And I think that about covers this one. There’s not that much to it, really. I just love it.