A Haughty Majestic Phoenix Entangled With Blooming Flowers On Black Silk.
That’s right, I’m calling it a birb. It’s a word I use every day. I have parrots, after all. To be honest about this one, I bought it domestically in a bundle with a maru obi that I’ll detail later. I wanted the obi, and only got an okay-ish look at the kimono, and the price was right, so here we are. The maru obi showed up in fantastic shape, but the kimono needed a little love. That’s okay, I had a lot of love to give. Unfortunately, this was way back before I had any inkling that I would start this blog and take any of you through my restoration processes. So you’ll have to make due with my descriptions. I know, what a goddamn tragedy.
The first problem I had with it was that one of the sleeves was partially undone. Sorry, this was like six years ago, and I don’t remember which one–I wanna say it was the left one. But this revealed to me that there was a good 8ish extra centimeters of material hiding in the sleeves! So instead of just fixing it, I took a knife to the seam of the other sleeve and let out the fabric. Sometimes, especially on older kimono, you’ll find that the sleeves have been shortened. Antique women’s kimono tend to have longer sleeves than their contemporary equivalents. Sometimes, the person who did the alteration cuts the sleeves. But most of the time, which makes me a happy little fucking goblin, they’ve actually just tucked the excess material into the seam allowance.
Given the opportunity, I will let the seam allowance for the sleeves out every. Time.
I don’t really see sewing corrections as restoration work any more than I see sewing a button back on to my pants to be “restoration work.” If I have to sew the whole goddamn kimono back together, maybe.
There were a few little surface stains on this piece when I received it. Nothing substantial enough for me to remember it well enough to comment on them here. What I do remember is that there were a few areas of the black body where the dye had been discharged for whatever reason. I don’t want to say that it was sun bleaching, because they were in something of a splatter pattern. There are, in fact, bits of crap you can get on your kimono that will affect the dye over time. I’m thinking that. We had some issues on the arm holes of the sleeves, some of the lower left panel on the back, and on the collar. They all looked very consistent with each other, but I have no idea what could have caused it. I don’t imagine they had just sprayed themselves down with a food item, although the mental image is fun.
So I mixed up my pigment, separated the lining, and went about layering it until it blended well with the background. You can still sort of see the one on the back panel in the right light, but you have to be right on top of it. And as I’ve stated many times before, if you’re that close to me, it’s fucking bear mace time. HEART EMOJI. (Yeah, I just screamed “heart emoji” instead of putting one.)
After that bit of clean up, sewing, and a gentle steam to relieve all of the wrinkles, she looked almost good as new. I’ve said this before, but it’s a good time to say it again: Do not. Use heat. Or iron your goddamn kimono. Until you are satisfied with the stain removal process, or the specific stain requires heat. Heat is really good at setting in stains–don’t make shit harder for yourself.
This piece has some gold embellishments that are so delicate and sweet that I want to stick them in my mouth. Yeah, I have problems, this is not news. But look at this shit:
I’m not certain, but I feel like this is meant to depict dew drops. If so, it’s perfect. They are just all over the kiri (paulownia) leaves. And they’re on the phoenix’s tail, too. Good shit.
There are also embroidered details adding a great deal of texture to the face of the phoenix. It makes his judgmental glare just that much more appealing:
There’s sometimes a lot of
fucking guessing educated approximations when it comes to these things in terms of age, but this time I have provenance. The seller is of the original family, and they have had these items since the 1920’s. Based on that beautiful red lining, the fantastic gradations in colors on the foliage and in the bird, and the mirror image of the design that continues inside of the hakakke (lower lining), I’m confident calling this a Taisho Era piece. My picky ass likes having a timeline.
As with most Taisho Era pieces, I am just in love with the softness of the silk. It flows over the skin weightlessly. Although it is awase (fully lined), it is light and breathes. I didn’t necessarily seek this piece out for the design, but I’m so delighted to have it. I love when that happens–when I stumble into something that I come to enjoy so much that you can pry it from my cold dead fucking fingers.
I guess there actually isn’t much else to say about this one, so let’s move on to the facts. This is a kurotomesode (a married women’s formal black kimono with five crests and a design below the hem), that boasts five variants of the mokko (a species of rose like flower) kamon (family crest), a delightfully snarky and sassy houou (phoenix), surrounded by kiku (chrysanthemums) and kiri (paulownia) blooms, and matsu (pine). There are delicate gold embroidery accents on various parts that continue inside the hakkake.
There’s not too much to say about it, I just wanted to show it off.
By the way, it took me a remarkably long time to write this very short blog. Wanna know why? SASSY BIRB: