Antique Haori–Glowing Blooms

Glowing Roundels Of Flowers And Foliage On Deep Dark Navy Silk.

You know, the little italicized whatever sentence up there that makes me look like I take this job seriously is usually the easiest part of the blog entry to write. All I have to do is describe basically what I’m looking at, right? Well with this one, I sat here for a second and had to decide how much of a fight I wanted to get in with anyone over this. Then again, if anyone approaches me for such a fight, I intend to come at them half naked, covered in mud, shaking the angry stick, and screaming something about an army of badgers. Nobody wants to fight with the crazy half-naked person.


Anyway. If you glance at this haori (kimono jacket), you’d say oh it’s black. And you’d be goddamn wrong, but it’s okay, I thought it was black when I bought it. That’s actually kind of the only thing I remember about buying it. In a pretty well lit room, it’s still black. Under my God Light™, which is what I like to call my insanely bright daylight lamp that I inspect things under, it’s blue. It’s the darkest possible end of navy blue without being actually black. Outside in the sunlight, it looks black but shimmers blue because of what I can only presume is fucking sorcery.

Although I guess if we needed any hints as to what the undertones of the dye used for this piece are, we could just look at the resist dyed areas where the little roundels start. But making things easy is for wimps and people with day jobs that matter.

While I do a lot of restorations, this doesn’t count as one. I removed a few stains, and I didn’t keep track of that because I’ve had it for quite some time now. I don’t recall them being noteworthy in any meaningful way–I’m pretty sure they were scratch-that-shit-off-with-a-fingernail situations. That actually happens a lot.

I don’t resize every haori that I get, because some of them are quite picturesque and require the seams to be where they are for the picture to be right. But as this one doesn’t really have that attribute, it has long since been resized. This is because I have -looks down- ahem, large tracks of land. While haori are meant to be worn open, when I wear them over my regular-ass everyday clothes, I do sometimes cross them over if I can.

As I mentioned, I don’t remember much about buying this particular piece. I didn’t get it because of any particular pull of my heart to repair it, or because of severe emotional disregulation retail therapy. Nah, I liked it, it was cheap, and I’m all about those Taisho-Romance (in this context, things that look like they are from the Taisho Era, or at least the 1920’s) sleeves. But I have zero provenance on it. I’m actually not even sure that it was worn much before me, and not just because I removed a ton of shitsuke ito (basting stitches). It’s largely because what few stains I do recall removing felt like someone handled it with some crud on their hands rather than dropping any food on it or something. I dunno, that’s just speculation. I’m always thinking very vividly about what people might have been doing in garments this old.

Sappy moment: my greatest hope for every antique that comes into my possession, whether it’s a restoration or just something I really liked, is that the person who first owned it would remember it fondly. Even if there is just no fucking chance in hell that they’re still alive and kicking out there anywhere, I would like to imagine that if they could see it again, it would cause them to remember things that made them smile. Even the items that come into my care that were taken unfairly; I hope the memory of wearing it was a good one.

So while I have no provenance on this one, the general feel of the fabric and the sizing of those sleeves gives me a pretty good impression that it’s probably a 1930’s item at the very latest, putting it in the early Showa Era. Can we take a second to talk about how delightfully subtle and sweet the colors on the shell are as compared to that lining? Holy crap my fucking eyes went deaf looking at that.

Oh here’s a neat thing, the flowers and branches inside of the little circles were probably done with a stencil. And they used the same stencil even if they reoriented position of the flowers. How do I know this? Because the same mistakes in the dye appear for every pattern of the same kind. Here are two of the ume (plum blossom) branches that were close enough to each other to compare. Behold:

Pictured: LOL DOT

That little orange dot appears next to every single ume branch ring. The kiku (chrysanthemum) ones have a bit of a “shadow,” too.

Pictured: …oh look, another dot.

Not that I’m making fun of the original artist or anything. I actually love seeing things like this “in the wild” so to speak. These are items made by people, and people fuck up. I wonder if this is an item that has twins–if it was mass produced and that’s why there wasn’t an insane amount of care put into those details. Or, I wonder if it was just that particular artisan’s “fuck this shit o’clock.” Or maybe such things are just not bothersome at all. Maybe I’m the first person to ever notice them. It is very much like me to notice shit like that.

I am tons of fun at parties. I assure you.

Can I take a second to point out the softness of this silk? It has a mock shibori (puckered little circle tie-dye technique) motif woven into the fabric, and it’s just so liquid smooooth. I know, I knooow. I often compare it to liquid, I’m not even sorry I did it again. Just be glad I usually pick nice things like “cool water” or “milky smooth,” and not things like “hot piss.” Now that’s a fluid you could get a sense for! Except I think that would be smell.

Tons. Of fun. At parties.

The fabric passes the burn test, and so it most certainly is silk, and that goes for the lining, too. The whole piece is adorned in little circled branches of ume (plum blossoms), kiku (chrysanthemums), and kaede (maple leaves). The lining is further decorated with matsu (pine), ume, sasa (bamboo), tsubaki (camellia). If not for the ume, and I guess the whole ass lining, I would argue that this was a fall piece, but I suppose I’ll wear it whenever I want anyway because fuck the police.

And the last thing I’ll point out on this guy is actually the cute little himo (ties) it came with. Unlike the usual woven or hand knotted and tasseled do-whackies (I am a master linguist yes) that you’ll see a lot, this one is beaded in pearl and shell. And photographing it is a hypnotic experience because if I move slightly, it looks different. Fucking look at it:

In a perfect world that tastes like milk caramel candy. Unfortunately, it does not. You know why I know. You know. Why I know.


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