Antique Kimono–Delicious Blooms

Candy Bright Blossoms And Foliage On Deeply Textured Light Olive Silk.

In case you missed it, I am going to goddamn eat this kimono. I’m going to eat it raw. I don’t usually go for the dull olive shade (that’s what color it is in person, I swear), but just looking at the way those greens, oranges, and blues pop against the background. Mmm, I had to have it. They look like actual candy.

Okay, they look like flowers. But I have this bizarre fixation with colors and textures and and associating them with things that are delicious. That means that every time I joke about wanting to stuff a kimono in my mouth because of what color it is or how it feels, there’s at least a tiny part of my brain that’s whispering “Dooo iiiit.”

Fortunately for me, this kimono wasn’t even stained anywhere that I could find, let alone a restoration project. So I didn’t have to resort to licking anything to try to figure out what it was. That means I’d be stuffing it in my mouth out of joy as opposed to necessity, and I keep insisting that I’m a normal adult human.

I also keep insisting that I’m arguably insane, so… -HOUMF-

I’m kidding. You hope.

Anyway. In an interesting turn of making a jackass out of myself events, I was just wracking my brains trying to categorize this kimono into a seasonality. I’m gonna break that down for you a little bit. It’s infinitely more complicated than how I’m about to explain this, especially in the modern context, but you can categorize kimono (with some exceptions) into two groups: hitoe and awase.

Hitoe refers to kimono that are not lined. and therefore are oftentimes meant for warmer seasons. You end up wearing a lot of layers in kimono anyway, so why make it more uncomfortable than you have to, right? A lot of hitoe kimono are made of a gauzy type silk (ro or sha), but the classic and iconic yukata (cotton kimono often worn at matsuri/festivals) qualifies as hitoe as well.

Awase is exactly the opposite of that. Awase kimono are lined. And they can be made of basically anything–it just has to have a lining. This kimono specifically qualifies as awase because it is fully lined. That sentence suggests that partial linings are a thing, and they are, but I’m not going to go all the way in it because I could spend the whole damn blog entry talking about it, and I really don’t want to.

So TL;DR: Hitoe warm weather seasons, awase any season really but favors cold weather seasons.

Anyway I was showing this off to my sister and she said that these were beautiful fall colors, and I don’t disagree necessarily. But something I feel that happens on kimono a lot are color schemes that western audiences would associate with “fall” also being used for spring or summer motifs. With some help once again from the fantastic Roza, I’m relatively sure that these flowers:

…are “natsutsubaki.” Japanese stewartia, which literally has “pseudocamellia” in its scientific name. I thought they were sakura for a moment, but the petals just really didn’t look right. And this bud with the leaves:

Feeling pretty confident that’s it.

So we’ve got a decidedly summer flower on an awase kimono. Actually, the presence of the red berries, which I think are nandina (“sacred” bamboo), as well as the kiku (chrysanthemums) makes this quite the summery dress, doesn’t it? On the one hand, you can wear awase whenever. On the other, I’m baking alive looking at it. Because you see the amazing textures in that rinzu (woven pattern) silk? It’s thick as hell. This is not a light, sheer garment. It has some heft to it.

This is when I realized I was being something of the aforementioned jackass. You see, I sometimes have myself a good little giggle when I see people tying themselves into knots as they try to force an antique item into a category based on modern/contemporary rules. That kind of applies here, too. These days we have a lot of strict rules around when and how to wear kimono, and a lot of those I think are born of the kimono becoming a specialty garment rather than “a thing to wear.” This kimono is an antique, and was made back when they were worn every day. Which means someone could just waltz their ass into the kimono shop and say “PUT SUMMER FLOWERS ON THIS THICC BITCH, I WANNA TURN HEADS.”

And anyone who suggests that didn’t happen either never took a single art/design history class, or they’re lying. Design history is full of nothing but dick waving and dick jokes, I’m not even kind of kidding. There is shunga (ukiyo-e style porn, RIP your browser history) all over all kinds of shit from back in the day, don’t you tell me they’d clutch their pearls at seasonality.

Oh hey look! I’m back to calling things “antique” instead of slapping a date on them again. Ugh. Well, at least I justify my damn decisions when I do make that call. I don’t have any provenance on this kimono other than I bought it direct from Japan and what I can see with my own eyes. We’ve got the nice long sleeve drop and that sweet red lining that likes to say Pre-WWII, but nothing definitive to tell me how far Pre-WWII. The kamon (family crest) size would have been a good example for that if it had been particularly large, but it just has one simple, embroidered and average sized kiri (paulownia). And so, without anything else to really guide me, I’m satisfied to call it “antique.”

The seller said there were stains. I had to pull a couching thread straight and I literally dusted off the left rear sleeve. That was it. Riveting, I know.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s mealtime and I’m going to eat this thing.


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