Antique Furisode–Peonies & Peafowl

Vibrant Blooming Flowers And Colorful Peacocks On Black Silk.

I bought this kimono just before the 5th year anniversary of my father’s death. That’s right, it’s my fill the void kimono. I’m not really sure what kind of void I’m filling, though. That shit’s complicated and weird, and that’s not what we’re here for. Why write about my feelings when I can point at these really angry goddamn birds and giggle instead? And as some of you might remember, I have a thing for sassy birds. Although, these peafowl aren’t anywhere near as mad about their mating dance as some of the other ones in my collection.

I’m going to admit that I probably paid too much for this one considering that it’s not incredibly rare, but there was just something about the sweet old decadence of it that I had to have. It’s just similar enough and just different enough from my red one that not having it would be a fucking crime. The kimono police would show up at my house and open fire. Just a wicked blood bath, I’m telling you. And while I am reasonably confident removing blood stains from silk, let’s not do that.


This is one of those pieces that I have limited provenance on, and so I refer to it as “antique” rather than by era. I have to say, however, that I would bet the neighbor kid’s healthy, supple left kidney that this is a Taisho Era piece. If we look at the gradation on the feathers of the peafowl, inside of the botan (peonies), and even on the leaves of the foliage, combined with the striking red lining; I’m pretty confident that someone owes me a kidney.

The seller listed this as a piece from the 1940’s. I disagree completely. But they purchased it in Kyoto in the early 2000’s.

This is also another one of those moments where remind everyone that I keep my domestic purchasing expectations very low. This is because here in the good ol’ US of A, the academic knowledge of kimono in general is not great, and therefore being able to identify problems or comb over them as carefully as I do is a really tall order. This is a kimono that was listed to be in better condition than it was in when I got it, but that’s not actually a jab at the seller (who I will not name), and it’s not to say that I’m disappointed in any way. I’m actually very satisfied with my purchase! Typically, when those condition issues are missed like this, it’s because they didn’t see them. And they didn’t fucking see them because they’re tiny or they look like part of the design. There is a ton of room for error if you don’t really understand what you’re looking at in this category. So I prefer to be gentle.

The two problems with this piece when I got it that were not mentioned were that it had a problem with bleached spots on the left back panel, and the left front panel as though something that discharged part of the dye had been splattered on it at some point. Also it had a few areas of pulled fibers that needed to be reseated (I’ll get to that).

Bleaching like this is an easy problem for me because I have a vast, thick, hard, throbbing, hot—wait, what was I talking about? Oh right. So I fixed the parts where the dye had been discharged with a mixture of pigments that I mix up myself. I have a good grasp of pigments and how they set/work together, so concealing and repairing small areas of bleaching/fading/discharge isn’t really a problem. I gotta tell you, though, I’m really hesitant to make up a tutorial on how to handle that shit, because if you don’t have a good grasp of what you’re working with, it is so easy to fuck up. On the one hand, I want to share the knowledge. On the other hand, I don’t want to tempt anyone to rub shit all over their kimonos because Becky’s blog said it was a good idea. Shit’s hard, yo.

I did take a few pictures of taking out a spot, though. And I did it while it was hanging on my iko (kimono stand) and with no material between layers, because I’m a fucking renegade like that. Actually it’s because I pulled the layers apart and just held it while I set it. They were so small it didn’t matter, really. Here’s the one I documented:

Pictured: Not a cum stain, probably.

Here it is all wet:

Pictured: If cum stain, see physician yesterday.

Here it is after the first treatment:

Pictured: Not a booger.

And here it is all done. It only took two:

Pictured: Literally nothing.

I had to do about twenty of these. Most of them were the size of a pinhead, and I was being anal retentive as fuck to go after them so incessantly, but here we are. That sounds like a lot, but my method really only took me about an hour and a half to do them all. It’s very aggressive. Just like meeeeee.

I didn’t get a good photograph of the pulled fibers just to piss you off because I wasn’t thinking about it as a restoration when I took care of them. I don’t think of tiny stain removals, itty bitty dye fixes, and thread reseats as restoration any more than I do sewing the button back on my pants. To fix them, though, basically I just apply a lot of pressure and then use a pair of very sharp nail clippers to nip away the rest to fix the weave. Most of the time that’s all it needs. Very rarely are pulls like this so severe that they fuck up the texture or the design at all. If I had to guess, something got stuck on a broken fingernail one too many times.

With those minor repairs out of the way, she’s damn near mint. In my search for stains, I spotted this delightful little thing:

Pictured: …nani the fuck?

And because I’m a fucking goblin, the first thing I did was lick it. Because I thought it was a stain. It is not. It is fully intentional dye work, and it appears on several other bits of foliage as well. That’s when the long-time florist in me woke up and said, “Yo, someone watered the flowers in direct sunlight. Stab them.

You see, beads of water on petals and foliage in direct sunlight can cause little sunburns like this. The water acts like a little magnifying glass, and the plant burns, and Becky throws a bitch-fit. And that process looks exactly like this! The fantastic and amazing Roza taught me about a type of yuzen (resist dye) called kaga yuzen from the Kanazawa prefecture, in which they depict kareha–the withering of leaves. Showing plants at various stages of their life cycles and not just perfection is something that I was aware of in kimono motifs, but it never occurred to me to look for things like damage specifically.

I have no other transition to this sentence and subject except to just say what I am thinking. I want you to stare at this peony bud for as long as I did and consider what it would be like to put it in your mouth, because it looks goddamn delicious.

Pictured: CANDY

Moving on.

Another interesting thing that gives me the artist-shivers about life from observation is the depiction of the peafowl. They’re both missing their primary flight feathers. I wonder if that means that the original artist had only ever seen peacocks that had been clipped/pinioned and thought that was normal, or if it was intentional.

Also at least two people reading this today are learning right now that peacocks can fly.

So here we are at the end of this entry where I list the facts about this piece. My transitions are fantastic. I would give a very educated guess that this is a 1920’s era furisode (formal kimono with long sleeves for unmarried women). She boasts vibrant jewel tone flowers such as botan (peonies), kiku (chrysanthemums), and ume (plum blossoms) as well as two equally vibrant peafowl. She has a highly decorated hakkake (lower skirt lining) with two other little birds that I can’t identify:

She boasts five variants of the kiri (paulownia) kamon (family crest) and a slightly padded hem, making her top formality. She is accented with soft embroidered details inside the flowers, and the finest gold couching threads depicting dew and shimmer in the peacock’s tail.

TL;DR: She’s fucking magnificent, and I absolutely definitely needed another black furisode. Fight me.


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