Majestic Cranes In Flight With Royal Carts And Candy Sweet Flowers On Soft Green Silk.
Tonight on bad titles, if they can thaw Mariah Carey’s ass out to have her howl about how she wants this sweet ass for Christmas starting on November the 1st, then I can make a really stupid seasonal candy pun in my title on November the 6th. I will, in fact, die mad about it. But enough about samey pop-Xmas nightmare screeching, let’s talk about this amazingly vibrant antique kimono that you actually came here for.
…can you tell that I did a lot of work in retail where they forced us to listen to holiday hits? No I’m not telling you where the bodies are buried.
This piece is an excellent example of
my severe impulse control problems a hikifurisode. What in the blue fuck is a hikifurisode, you ask? Well when you see the word “hiki” smashed onto the front of a garment, it typically means that it’s meant to be worn trailing and so it has a decorative hakkake (lower inner skirt lining), and is quite long. This specific furisode measures in at 168cm, which puts it at just over 66 inches for those who hate math. As a reference, a “properly” sized kimono for a lady should be approximately her height so that she can wear it correctly. To be over her height would be for that lovely train.
Of course, 5 feet and 6 inches doesn’t sound terribly tall in modern western standards. But if you’ll notice that I’ve slapped my trusty antique label in that title, and that there’s a glorious red lining peeking out from those sleeves–and more on that in a minute–we can be pretty sure that this item is from no later than the early 1930’s. Standard height of kimono that do not have the “hiki” in front of them for that era do not run this long.
Speaking of that antique label, this is where I once again point out that I refused to put an exact date on this because I just don’t have the provenance to do so. The person who was selling it got it from an estate sale, and their descriptions leads me to believe that they didn’t understand that this is an antique. And I don’t blame them, it’s in damn near perfect shape. The seller also described this as possibly being unfinished because there were some loose threads in a few spots, and therefore surmised that the person who had owned it made it themselves. I’ll get to those loose threads in a minute, because they are significant.
I am not suggesting it isn’t possible that the person didn’t make it themselves–artisans are humans after all. But there is no chance in hell that this is a new garment, and the liklihood of it having been designed, yuzen dyed, lined (and then re-lined), kamon stenciled, and then couched in this person’s house here in the USA is zilch. To touch on that point of it having been re-lined, you’ll see that the sleeves boast a brilliant red lining, which was fashionable before, during, and a little after the Taisho Era. I don’t do this, but a whole lot of people will slam pretty much everything with a red lining into the Taisho category, and honestly I can see why.
But on this garment, we can also see that the lining of the rest of the body, with the exception of the hakkake of course, has been relined. It was common as we got further into the Showa Era for those vibrant red linings to have been replaced, and therefore I see plenty of antique garments that have white linings even when they have a provenance of well into the Taisho Era. I wonder about garments that still have red in the sleeves, though. Someone feeling catty, or was the lining in body replaced out of necessity rather than style?
The lining of the body is a soft cream silk. It’s a very light cream, almost white, but not quite. I almost thought it was stained at a glance, but under my big fucking light, I could see that it was more of a cream. It’s also a tsumugi weave, but much lighter than others that I’ve seen. Have a look:
Remember that time I was talking about those loose threads that made the seller think this item was unfinished, and that I’d get to them in a minute because they’re significant? Well buckle up, chucklefucks, because the time is now!
So something that started with a delightful “let’s all learn together” skipping through meadows or some shit thing has evolved into an “I can’t escape this why does this keep happening” thing, and so now I’m here to make a point about it. I keep running into people convinced that their kimono is either unfinished or that they’re tailored in a completely different way than they are, and it’s because of these motherfuckers right here:
You are looking at the inside lining and the outside shell of the same sleeve with these big, wide-ass stitches made in them. These motherfuckers are called shitsuke ito. A good equivalent for them in English would be basting stitches. There are two reasons you find these on a kimono garment. The first and most common is because the garment is new/unworn and is being delivered directly from the shop/tailor to you. These stitches are put in to prevent the layers from slipping around and losing their shape in transit, or even for long storage. The second reason would be in something called karinui or karieba–which is when the cut bolt of kimono fabric has been temporarily tacked into shape for fitting. I want to include a picture of this, but it’s kind of hard to do that without just ripping one off of someone’s shop site, and I’m not feeling great about doing that right now, so you can Google those terms to see what that looks like if you want.
If your kimono is karinui or karieba, it probably doesn’t have a lining yet, and shit’s just hanging all over the place. It’s not tidy. You’ll know.
What I keep running into, however, is people convinced that these stitches are actually holding the garment together. That you’re supposed to keep these big, white, comparatively flimsy eyesores in place or the kimono will fall apart. So they go out wearing their kimono with these in them.
-Sighs and rubs temples-
Let me be very clear about something. You are reading some frustration, if not just because my pain is hilarious and I’m here to make you giggle. But it’s important to me that it’s understood: the misunderstanding part isn’t what you’re reading frustration from. After all, what right do I or anyone of us have to be pissy about complicated subjects like this? I ain’t gonna sit here and tell you with a straight face that I know everything about this shit, either.
No, my friends. What you’re reading the frustration from is actually what happens if you Internet Search Engine Of Your Choice™ the words “large white stitches kimono.” Literally the first result is a video in English describing what these are.
Maaaaaaaaaybe it sounds like I’m harping. I mean no ill will against anyone ever, really. It’s just that as an IT professional, my molars crack when people don’t just look things up sometimes. We run around with the whole of human knowledge in our pockets, and we use it to look at porn and cat pictures. This is a boring dystopia.
I removed these stitches. Because the stitches that hold the lining to the shell are here:
…between the layers, in small, tidy, invisible stitches.
So, if you buy a kimono, a haori, a douchugi, hakama, or whatever, and it has these shitsuke ito in them, you don’t have to wish they were a less blindingly white color. You can totally just take them out. Unless that’s your fashion statement, at which point you do you. Wear the kimono and be awesome.
Part of me thinks I might be being overly pedantic, but the other part of me wants to ask you if you’ve ever just run into a bunch of people in a row who were very confidently incorrect about something you know a lot about. Tell me you haven’t at least imagined throat-punching someone over that. You don’t do it, because that’s a dramatic overreaction. But you do think it for a split second.
I had some dude tell me that his “Nortons” could “clean his RAM” once. The internal screaming was deafening. We were not allowed to get licqored up on the job. Crying was heavily discouraged.
Let’s talk about what’s neat with this specific kimono!
I think it goes without saying at this point that yes, she is a completed kimono. She’s also in just amazing shape, too. I did have a small bit of dirt to remove here and there, but the hem is thicc and clean. There’s no hazing, there’s no dye bleed, no holes or runs, no signs of shattering anywhere. I also literally named another blog entry after food because I swear to a god–I dunno, let’s pick….Teshub–that antique colors look delicious and I am going to eat these things and then have the audacity to be surprised when that tachibana (citrus) doesn’t taste like a clementine.
While there is no damage that I can find, there is
something really fucking weird a peculiarity about her that I’m still on the fence about. I kind of think it had kinsai (gold leaf paint) on it once. Check this out:
So if you look at the borders of the tachibana (citrus), and the dark red matsu (pine) poof, you’ll see that there’s a dark kind of outline to it. And that outline appears elsewhere exactly like that, too. But it’s not around everything. Typically when I see that kind of coloration around a shape, it means that it once had kinsai on it.
…restoration in progress?
But…there’s none left. Anywhere. Like, those darker lines are consistent wherever they appear, and they don’t seem to have any sparkle to them. I don’t think that anyone has ever attempted to wash this garment on account of the fact that the dye work isn’t
fucking annihilated running anywhere. But short of being tossed in detergent and water, there’s not a lot that I can think of that would take kinsai off so consistently. So that’s pretty fucking weird, right?
I haven’t actually bothered to make a decision on whether or not I’m going to go in and put it back, because I haven’t come to the conclusion that there was for-realsies kinsai there to begin with. Not that I don’t want to spiff her up with some extra sparkle, but I don’t usually alter garments in this way. It leaves me feeling wishy-washy.
Moving on, can we take a second to talk about the fucking photo-realistic goddamn legs these tsuru (cranes) have? Because god damn are they detailed:
That is some try hard art magic right there. As an expert in fine birbs, I want to gnaw on those leggies. I’ll do it. I’m a goddamn psychopath. Just ask Gir:
Anyway, being a pedantic asshat takes a lot of energy out of me, so I’m going to sum this one up now. An antique from at least the early Showa Era (late 20’s early 30’s), this hikifurisode is adorned with tsuru (cranes), kiku (chrysanthemums), ume (plum blossoms), tachibana (citrus), matsu (pine), sensu (fans), and gosho guruma (royal carts). It is embellished with delightful embroidery and couching that is perfectly intact, as well as sporting amazing candy colors that I swear I didn’t just shove into my mouth because I’m a normal, functional adult and no other reasons. A highly formal garment, she sports five kamon (family crests) of katabami (clover). Suffice to say that this is a show stopper of a wedding dress.