Antique Kimono–Summer Breeze

Late Summer Flowers In Full Bloom On Deep Plum Silk Gauze.

As I type this, it is a balmy 1°F/-17°C here in my neck of the American Midwest, and boy does it make me feel the need to break out my summer attire! Haha! I’m freezing, everything is terrible. Hell is cold feet. I love my neighborhood, and the winter night sky is a thing of beauty. But fuck man.

Anyway, my wrist is doing better, and I’ve resumed work on some restorations. But in the meantime, rather than sit here and do nothing, let’s have a look at this delightful antique summer kimono that I got for Christmas from the wonderful Sachi, my little sister who I love more than the neighbor kid’s kidneys, and her boyfriend Ray. I like Ray, too. He sends me shark videos and memes, and they make my day.

This majestic beast came with a few stains, and I didn’t bother to report on taking them out because they were very simple to remove using the vinegar method. Maybe I’ve missed the mark here, but I just don’t see a good reason to record the same kind of stain removal over and over and over again. Do you guys actually want to see every stain I remove? Is that actually interesting? Teach me how to human.

I guess if I should have recorded any-goddamn-thing I did with it, some of the thin silver urushi (lacquered) threads that are woven into the sheer fabric had come pulled out a bit. So I prepped a sharp-ass needle and wove it right the fuck back in. I will always do that if I think that I can recreate the look faithfully enough. The other option is just to hack off the end that’s hanging out like a sad, limp, urushi wiener. Although that’s typically only the go to option if the thread is frayed or damaged in some way. I’ll do that with a very sharp pair of nail clippers that have mermaid tails on them. True story–those were also a gift from Sachi. Sachi gets me.

But this time I didn’t have to. I didn’t take a picture of the “before” because I suck. Just the worst. But here’s the line in question:

Pictured: Me ripping some hot lines of silver urushi.

Can you tell where the original weaving stops and my repair begins? Caaaaan you? Let me know.

There’s a word for the weave of this silk fabric that eludes me right now. This is a gauzy silk that has a woven pattern to it that I don’t think quite qualifies as rinzu, but whatever. This kimono is hitoe–meaning that it is unlined. Throughout the body of the kimono, those little silver lines appear randomly, giving it a flash of sparkle as it moves. I shared these pictures with the wonderful and amazing Roza, and she informed me that her restoration expert, Morimoto-san, says that these silver streaks are very Pre-WWII and found on many Taisho Era kimono.

My favorite way to get information about these things is from other humans. I do enjoy reading books and such, but it’s the artisans–the people on the ground elbow deep in dye and weird chemicals bringing these beauties back to life that I feel know the most, and have the most detailed information. I’ve seen a “museum” Instagram account showcase a clearly Pre-WWII kurotomesode–complete with red lining, deep chirimen, mirrored skirt design, and large kamon–and they said that it was “vintage” from the 1960’s. So vet your experts, my friends. Some of them are experts at being wrong about shit.

That said, I don’t have any provenance on this kimono beyond technique, so it gets my trusty “Antique” label.

It does have one embroidered kamon (family crest) on it, which is not larger than my little size guide, which is an applique I pulled from this kimono. It is the size of contemporary kamon, and the suggestion here is that when the kamon isn’t larger than this, it’s probably not older than middle Taisho at the very earliest. Behold:

Pictured: LOL dick kamon measuring

It was also brought to my attention that modern/contemporary tsukesage (semi formal women’s kimono with discontinuous pattern) rarely have a pattern on both sleeves. I actually never noticed that, but now that I look it up, I find it to be true. But this brings up that old pissing contest debate about categorizing antique kimono by contemporary standards. Old stuff makes me happy, what can I say.

And that’s pretty much all there is to this one. It’s a beautiful Pre-WWII summer piece adorned with kikyo (bellflower), nadeshiko (dianthus), and hagi (bush clover). Some of the flowers and foliage have been embellished with the sweetest embroidery. Sweet as in it looks like candy. As in yes you bet your sweet ass I stuffed it in my mouth.

Join me next time when hopefully I’ll have a restoration done to show you, as my flesh prison has started behaving itself!


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