Antique Irotomesode–Ocean Blue

Cranes In Flight Over Wild Waves Of Festive Blossoms And Decorative Boxes On Blue Silk.

Welcome back to another showcase because my wrist is still fucky and I gotta tell you I am so goddamn bored. Oh my god. I’m not allowed to do anything, and I’m about as far from ambidextrous as you can get thanks to an old injury on my left wrist, leaving that hand to be a bit fucky sometimes, too. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but I’ve also got to be careful how I hold shit apparently. I think if I ever lost this hand, I would immediately have to start my career as a foot-arsonist. Meaning, I am going to learn how to burn shit down using my feet.

What? It’s more productive than just screaming impotently at my flesh prison for misbehaving.

So that’s a thing. I can type okay, I guess, so here we are. I can take pictures okay, too. It’s a bit of a process, but for the most part it’s not a nightmare. I just use my phone. I literally bought this phone for the camera. I’m not a stellar photographer to begin with.

Which brings us to today. I just got this kimono. I have no nostalgic attachment to it. It did not come to me in shambles from where-the-fuck-ever USA as probably a piece that was stolen during the Japanese American internment. Nah. I ordered this shit from Shinei because I liked it. It’s a hard, angry blue which goes very well with my hard angry mood. Although I had it in my possession before I fucked up my wrist, so I wasn’t over here rage buying at least. It did have a few stains to speak of, but they really didn’t want to hang on, and I didn’t bother to document their removal because it was just the vinegar method.

It was the real fucking sloppy vinegar method, too. I popped zero seams because fuck the police. To be honest, after awhile of doing this you just get a sense for these things. In technical speak, this means you can tell when fabrics and dyes are going to be super cooperative or not. This one feels to me like a solidly 1930’s era piece, and my experience with pieces as they move further into the pre-war Showa Era is that they got a bit less lax about setting dyes on formal items. Or maybe I’ve just been really lucky. I don’t fucking know.

So here I am calling it for being a 1930’s piece. Why would I do that if I have no provenance? Well, something that I’ve noticed on a lot of 20’s into 30’s dye technique is how much more solid things seem to get as we move forward in time. Here, I’ll find an example.

Here are two kiku (chrysanthemum) examples. The one on the left is from the kimono being showcased today, and the one on the right is this kimono. Now, while I would like to point out that I know that I labeled them both as “antique” rather than assigning them eras, I am certain that the kimono on the right is older for a number of reasons. There is a sweet, loose, ink painting/watercolor effect to them. Gradation between colors in the foliage and objects. While gradation isn’t absent in newer pieces, I think that it’s very easy to see that it looks different. We see larger spaces of solid colors with harsher, tighter transitions between colors.

Also this kimono has a cream colored lining as opposed to a red one–but that actually doesn’t mean that it never had a red lining. There has been a non-zero number of times where I have been doing repairs on a kimono only to find remnants of a red lining being used as reinforcement for seams on an antique kimono with a white lining. When red linings fell out of fashion going in to WWII, it’s not like people just chucked their kimono. Some got put away, some said “fuck it” and just kept wearing them, but a metric fuck ton of them had their linings replaced. Possibly the most interesting version of that practice I come across is when the body lining is cream colored but the sleeves are still red. It makes me wonder about the attitude of the wearer, and it makes me smile. Because you know…fuck the police.

The last thing, of course, that I used to date this piece was simply the size of the kamon (family crest). I’ve been using the decals that I pulled off of this piece as a size reference, since they are perfectly “contemporary” kamon size. Somewhere in the middle of the Taisho Era (1912-1926), kamon shrank to the sizes that we see today. (Note: men’s kimono are a beast of their own.) So a really good way to ballpark an antique kimono is to measure the kamon. It’s not foolproof, as nothing is foolproof for the sufficiently talented fool, but it’s a good guideline when used with other factors. Behold:

Pictured: A Partial Eclipse of the Mon

They are the same size, telling me pretty definitively that this kimono is probably from the earlier Showa Era. There are other factors, but I like to go over them randomly. I don’t sell shit as a business or anything–I’ve been known to quietly list things I don’t want but they never make it to this blog, and I’m actually more likely to just give them away–but I feel like if I give up all of my secrets at once all of the time, I’ll have a lot of competition on feeding my kimono goblin tendencies. I don’t need to start approaching auctions with a tazer.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole fuck of a lot to say about this one. Again, I haven’t had it for very long, and the only reason it’s going up so quickly is because I can’t do shit else. So let’s break it down. This is an antique irotomesode (kimono for women with five crests and pattern on the hem that is a color other than black), it is adorned with tsuru (cranes), nami (waves), kaioke (shell game boxes), kiku (chrysanthemums), ume (plum blossoms), matsu (pine), sasa (bamboo), and a sweet gradation that I believe is supposed to represent kasumi (haze). It bears five tsuta (ivy) kamon, making it a formal dress. Irotomesode are highly formal for auspicious occasions. Think aunt or sister of the bride or groom. Mom would wear a kurotomesode (this but black).

Join me next time when either my wrist will be doing better and I can do something that isn’t warble mindlessly at a kimono I just bought, or where I’ll be warbling mindlessly at a kimono I just bought. I was supposed to go to space with Quackles, but as it turns out, ducks do not make good astronauts, and space flight requires -checks notes- a ship that is not made of cardboard. Can’t have shit in Chicago.


One thought on “Antique Irotomesode–Ocean Blue

  1. Beautiful colors! I hope you got a phone that you can talk to. With my new Samsung I can just point it and say shoot, capture or some other word I’ve forgotten! I use capture. The mood you are in right now you may want to say shoot!! Thanks for your interesting blogs, I love to read them.

    Liked by 1 person

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