How do I accurately describe what I’m thinking right now without just leaning really hard on the all caps and just smashing the keyboard until I feel satisfied? I mean, one could argue that’s what the entirety of this blog is. Your name is just noises you respond to, fucking fight me. This kimono was brought to me with the help of my dear friend, the amazing Roza, because way back when I finished this phenomenal uchikake I decided that I was going to build a bridal ensemble. I’d like it to be made of mostly shit I restored, even though I’m already in my thirties and very married. Since I think the kimono police don’t actually operate in this territory, I’m going to do it anyway.
Besides, I didn’t have a wedding. We went to the Justice of the Peace. Wanna know how we picked our wedding date? We called the magistrate’s office and said “Ya, when’s the judge available next?” I was wrong about our anniversary date for about five years into our married life until I needed our marriage certificate for some legal shit. CLEARLY A VERY IMPORTANT DATE. We should renew vows or some shit. And even if we don’t, I’m going to dress up all bridal at least once. Because my actual wedding photo is:
Not a single goddamn one of you is surprised, don’t even fucking act like it.
Since I have the uchikake, it’s time to hunt down the other bits. It’s not like I don’t already own some things that technically qualify as wedding attire, but I didn’t choose them for myself as though I was choosing my own wedding dress. I’ve literally never done that before. It was hard, man. Scrolling through pieces, I saw this one, and good god. This majestic beast. And it needs me. It had so many surprises for me when it showed up just earlier today, and I’m going to take you through them with me.
First, let’s have a look at her, yeah?
If you listen closely–yes I mean in your room or wherever the hell you are while you read this–you can hear the weird gurgling sounds I’m making as I try not to drool all over everything. Trying and failing! It’s great.
The themes we have here are sho-chiku-bai (this is what it’s called when matsu [pine], ume [plum blossoms], and sasa [bamboo] appear together), sensu (fans) that are decorated themselves with kiku (chrysanthemums) and little gold chocho (butterflies). The body of the kimono itself also has a kai awase game on it–how the fuck do I explain this–think of it kind of like a cute little fortune telling game that’s played with painted shells. The shells are painted with tachibana (citrus), aoi (hollyhock), and a bunch of other flowers that appear elsewhere. There’s also a big-ass Houou (phoenix) on the box. On the right side panel, there’s a large curtain like thing called a kicho, which is just something of a screen divider popular in the Heian period. It shows up on kimono a lot.
Now that your eyes have crossed thoroughly, let’s get to some weird shit.
She was advertised as “Taisho Romance,” which is what sellers tend to say when they don’t have an exact date but they want to say pre-1930’s. Or at least that’s what I’ve come to learn about it. I went ahead and plastered the Taisho label to this piece above, even though regular readers will know that I
bitch and moan am very picky about putting that label on pieces when I have limited provenance on them. I was going to call it antique when I was first documenting the damage (THAT’S RIGHT, I REMEMBERED THIS TIME), but some whimsical fuckery made me change my mind.
…made me stop and literally say out loud to nobody, “Hold the fuck up.”
Why? Well I’m going to give you a second to look at it and see if you see what I see.
… … …
Okay, I’ll give you a hint. Take a look at the beautiful texture of the silk. Now look at the texture of the black on the kamon (crest). Look at the dye around it.
Do you see it?
HOW ABOUT FUCKING NOW?
You know. This piece called to me when I first saw it. Not just the damage. Just something about all of it. That’s our fucking family crest. It’s been dyed over and replaced. Behold!
Do you see this shit?! That’s insane. I picked out a wedding dress, for me, to restore, and out of everything, I picked this.
So now a very interesting, and yet pain in the ass, and yet also very welcome task has been added to my To Do list on this magnificent beast: I get to figure out how to fucking undo this to get those daki myouga (ginger) crests back.
Circling back, why did this make me slap it into Taisho territory? Because when I inspected them closer, and later picked a seam to inspect it from the reverse side of the silk, I find that the original kamon are significantly larger than the applique kamon that covered them. Larger crests are very much a thing of the past in this context–to the point where we would see them falling out of fashion in between the late Meiji Era and into the early to middle Taisho Era.
That bit aside, let’s talk about the damage. And boy do I have my work cut out for me. I say that a lot. It’s true, I guess.
Let’s have a look at the damage.
We’ll start with the stains, because that’s most of it. And I’ve come to conclude that most of it is just literal dirt. I don’t think there’s foodstuffs spilled on this, and I don’t think anyone got in a sword fight with some uncapped sharpies. I see water spotting, humidity damage, foxing, and some just straight up mud. Have a look:
Water stains are best treated with vinegar, so I’ll start there.
While we’re inspecting this, can I just point out the decadent fucking layers this mamber-jamber’s got? Look at this shit:
My next big concern is the kinsai (gold paint) because of fucking course it is. It’s not missing everywhere, but the places where it’s rubbed off are pretty dramatic.
Those are two pretty good examples of what’s up with that. This piece also has silver paint, but I’m not sure if there’s a special name for that. This will make it the second piece that I’m going to have to buy silver leaf to mix into paint for. Sounds like
hell fun! The phoenix on the kai awase box has a pretty good example of where the silver and gold have rubbed off, too.
As you move from our left to right, you can see the patterns behind him become more prominent. They’re near invisible under his wing there in the photograph. Luckily for me, that’s kind of a trick of the light. I can see them just fine in person.
Wait…is that a snail?
None of the other buds have swirls like that. That is adorable.
After that, there are a few places that need some sewing help. The sleeves, of course, almost always do. I’m also going to have to pop a lot of seams on this piece in order to get between layers when I start testing for colorfastness and otherwise removing stains, so that’s a whole thing. There are some weak stitches in the couching on some of the kai awase shells, but that’s not a huge thing. I’ll probably be able to just adjust those rather than redo them completely. I didn’t bother to take a picture of that because…well they look fine until you start wiggling them. The fuck am I gonna do, wreck it for a picture? Nah.
So there’s my chore list for this one. And I am pretty goddamn excited.