Antique Maru Obi–Summer Snow

Stylish Snow Crystal Rings With Regal Carts And Tranquil Watersides On Airy Cream Silk.

Before I get started, I’d like to point out that one of my favorite parts of writing each entry is coming up with the little italicized flavor text up there. Because I always want to write it out in a somewhat professional, clear, and maybe even artful way. It might fool some people into thinking that they haven’t just entered an absolute shitshow. Haha! I’ve deceived you! It’s all licking weird stains and stealing neighbor children’s organs here!

And yet, some people still do come here to learn. Does that mean I need to make a tutorial about how to pick a good target to steal kidneys? I wouldn’t want to leave anything out.

Anyway. Today’s shitshow blog post is about this delightful little maru obi that I actually received as a gift about five years ago. I really, really, really should have asked more questions about it when I got it. I think that the lovely oba-chan (in this context, Japanese old woman that I’m affectionately calling grandma) who gave it to me would have been happy to share. But at the time, I think that I was just so blown away that someone would want to give me anything for all of this crap that comes flying out of the hole in the center of my face, that I simply bowed my head and accepted it graciously. I’m not kidding, I almost cried, too.

It was 2016, and I had been asked by a friend to talk to some people in a group she was part of in a casual but academic setting about kimono and stuff at the local library. I was going over some things about kimono and wafuku (Japanese traditional clothing) in general, but I did go over some of my restoration work, and had actually brought this furisode, this kuromontsuki, this haori, and a few other items I haven’t showcased here yet. It was mostly teenagers, I think. There were a few adults. I think there were about fifteen people? Ugh, I didn’t count them, it wasn’t my group. I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember that much more about it, because if anyone dissociates harder than I do when I’m having to present information without saying “fuck” like nine hundred times, then I dare you to point them out.

I picked up that habit from all those years of singing and crap–I’m not real. I’m just a thing presenting to you. Eat my whole ass, stage fright. I think we had a pretty good time, though.

Oba-chan had come along with her granddaughter who had a few questions about kimono in a very modern context. Then at the end, when everyone else was packing up and leaving, oba-chan left and then came back in with a box that had this obi in it. First, she asked me if I knew what it was. I thought she was trying to get me to identify it for her, and I’m happy to do that. So I inspected it, felt it, and now I’ll describe it in the way that I best remember describing it to her:

This is at the very earliest a pre-WWII maru obi, which is the longest and frequently the most formal kind. From the texture, I would say that it is silk, although I would need a burn test to confirm (I later did, and it is). It’s a summer weight item, that has either had the obi-shin (the core) removed or otherwise never had one because both ends are properly tailored. The silk is woven first in ro, which is the gauzy pattern you see where the silk seems to skip a line every here and there, and it is also rinzu (patterns woven into the silk). There are gosho guruma (the carts), kiku (chrysanthemums), hagi (bush clover), kai awase (shells for something of a fortune telling game), and I even see a fiddlehead fern in there, but I don’t know the Japanese word for that. And in a delightful bit of irony that I see on a lot of summer weight items, these patterns are made inside of yukiwa–which are stylized snow crystals. I think the idea there is that you’ll stay cooler if you think cool thoughts.

Many of the embroidered details have metallic accents, or are completely metallic, but I don’t think that these are real metal because of the weight of the threads. I’m fairly convinced they’re urushi (lacquered) threads.

When I was done telling her what I saw, she was just beaming. Let me tell you, with all due respect, this woman had a special kind of resting bitch face, but she lit up like the sun when I talked about it. I have radiation burns from that smile. Then I think I probably shit my pants, because told me she wanted me to have it, as it would go perfectly with this furisode, and because she wanted someone to have it who would appreciate it. (As it turned out it was a bit too pastel for her kind of goth granddaughter.) Then I tried to pay her for it, or offer a trade, or fucking something, but she wasn’t having it. She just wanted it to go to someone who knew what it was, what it was for, and would love it for what it was. And that’s when I teared up like a little bitch, accepted the box, bowed my head, and just thanked her.

That is because I am a sentimental goddamn idiot, and what I should have done was ask her at least YO GRANNY HOW THE FUCK OLD IS THIS? WHEN DID YOU GET IT?

Eh, that would have ruined the moment, I guess. And I suppose it doesn’t really matter, either.

As I’ve stated many times now, I don’t like slapping the Taisho label on things all willy nilly. And so I haven’t. Granny didn’t correct me when I said I thought it was pre-WWII, but let’s remember that December 24th 1926 was the Taisho Era, and December 26th 1926 was the Showa Era. Soooooo, yeah.

Secret time: I haven’t worn this one yet because I’m not sure I feel worthy of it. It’s in near mint condition with perhaps only a loose thread here and there, and a slight smudge on the very edge near the end. You have to be three inches away from it, like I was because I’m a creep, in order to find it. It’s visible in the pictures if you know where it is. FIND IT, I DARE YOU. I guess I should. I’ve fixed more kimono than I’ve annihilated now, and I run a blog where I talk about it wand say “fuck” a lot.

I’m putting that on my resume.

I’m out of things to say about this one now.


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