Antique Kimono–Purple Bamboo

Haha! Hi! I’ve been sick. Happily, it’s not the plague-du-jour, and it also wasn’t something contagious. It was just my shitty, shitty body having a hissy fit over god knows what. It’s done now. I haven’t updated in a week. Ugh. The worse news is that I also haven’t been able to do very much in the way of restoration work for that same week, which suuuuuucked because some of the materials that I need to finish work had finally arrived. Just staring me in the face from across the room while I lay there afraid to hoarf all over a kimono.

But! With all of that out of the way, I’m back and today I’m showcasing this exquisite Taisho era kimono that my lovely sister in law gave me for Christmas. I actually took these photos some time ago after the initial cleaning; I only now had time to finish processing the photos. I didn’t want to hoarf on my laptop, either.

Something interesting that I’ve learned in the last decade or so that I’ve been seriously studying and collecting kimono items, is that there are a lot of little subtleties and rules surrounding kitsuke (the act/art of wearing kimono). What I’ve also learned is that depending on the era an item comes from, the person it was made for, or even the region it was made in, those rules don’t mean shit. Because depending on who you ask and where you are, this kimono is several different things.

Because of its age, it qualifies as an irotomesode–which is a formal kimono of a solid colour (not black) with a design only on the skirt–even though it only has one crest and the “rules” say it should have five. It also qualifies, I’ve been told, as a ko-furisode, again because of its age and the length of the sleeves. But hold on, it’s not fucking complicated enough yet! In terms of modern sensibilities, you could call this a houmongi (semi-formal) and not technically be wrong, either. However, the best and most inclusive information about it is this: as the Meiji era went into the Taisho era, we started to see more kinds of kimono, different formality rules. Just more.

So, what the hell does that mean? Well, as it was pointed out to me, the modern classifications don’t always translate well depending on how far back you go. The concept of houmongi vs. irotomesode wasn’t something they were thinking about when this kimono was made. And indeed, the kamon (family crest) is embroidered and even stylized–that’s not likely what the family crest of the original owner 100% looks like. It was ordered this way because it looked good. And to me, that’s just fucking fascinating.

I love modern kimono, too. I have quite a few of them, and you’ll see some on this blog in the future! So please don’t misunderstand -Shotgun chkchk- Don’t. Misunderstand. I love kimono. But I have a deep love in me for the vintage and antique pieces because the rigidity of these rules didn’t exist yet. As an artist, it speaks to me.

Anyway! This delightful kimono is a sweet, perfect plum purple with rinzu silk in the pattern of bamboo stalks. On the skirt, we see an explosion of fall colours of more sasa (bamboo) in yuzen (resist dye technique). There are a few bits of metallic threads here and there, and a few threads of embroidery to accent the individual leaves as well. In terms of condition, I can’t rightfully call this piece a restoration. It is clearly very old, a solidly Taisho era piece (LOL we can tell because of the dispute over what kind of kimono it even is), but aside from a very small stain on the hem of the left-most panel (came right out) and a few very minor patinas here and there, all it needed was a soft ironing. I can’t even begin to describe correctly how this piece feels against the skin. The silk has some texture to it, but the texture is almost liquid smooth and it’s just so soft. There’s a softness to old silk that I struggle to describe. So, suffice to say SKIN LIKEY.

Stay tuned as I play catch up with normal life stuff. I’ll be posting some updates on my restorations, and I have a new tutorial in the works, too.

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