I think that one of the most exciting things that keeps me engaged with buying kimono domestically is the fact that, as I say frequently, it really is just chaos and anarchy out here. Nobody knows how old anything is; new products are listed as ancient and legit antiques are often called 60’s to 80’s. Nobody knows what good condition means, so if you get something colorful enough they’ll tell you it’s mint and actually it might as well have been used as a napkin. Nobody knows what a lining is–everything is reversible. Japanese words are used randomly and without any regard to what they actually mean, and everything is a geisha princess wedding kimono. Yes that’s an exaggeration, but it doesn’t always feel like one.
And my absolute favorite part, everything is always listed with just the best possible pictures. That should be read dripping with sarcasm. One of the things I like to do is keep a small record of the seller’s photographs of items. These are mostly for my personal needs–for example in the extremely rare case that someone is trying to fuck me over–or actually just because I’m very aware that kimono can be difficult to photograph accurately to begin with. Especially the antique ones. But the amount of effort that goes into representing the item well varies wildly. If you’re not sure what the mighty blue fuck I’m talking about, I’m here for you.
Behold, here are some of my absolute favorite unexpected results pieces and the photos that made me slap either Place Bid or Buy It Now with extreme prejudice. The first rule of buying stateside? Surprise Motherfuckers:
These are not all of the seller photos vs. my photos that I have, mind you. These are just what I felt like represent some of the best examples of what I like to call emotional whiplash. Because all of these were either way better, way worse, or had some insane detail about them that just made me wiggle around like some kind of weird human sized caterpiller-Becky hybrid. That’s a good mental image. It’s definitely not screaming for death.
I have nothing bad to say about a single one of these sellers whether or not the piece came to me in great condtion. Train wrecks are what I do here, after all. Although the peacock with bamboo was not a fan of the language I use on my blog. Oh well, can’t please every-fucking-body. I still had a perfectly plesant and enjoyable interaction with them. Whilst I try not to speak poorly of anyone I work with on these items, and one of my personal values is never to just be mean for the sake of being mean, I’ll have you know that I can be judgey as hell when it comes to items I have zero intention of purchasing that are just fucking weird. And when I say fucking weird, I usually mean that I think that someone is full of shit and straight up lying to try to get a high price.
For example, that time I came across a regular-ass fairly modern men’s haori (jacket) that was inside out and jammed into a goddamn tree. They wanted five goddamn grand for this “Edo” (lol fucking no) priceless artifact, but still jammed it into a goddamn tree to take pictures. I don’t think it’s still up, because I can’t find it anymore, but don’t you worry, I took a screenshot.
Part all of me wants to meet this person, because they’re either a con artist or they have a screwdriver permanently embedded in their skull, and nothing in between. But you know what I love? Being wrong. If this was yours and you read this and wanna clear your name, talk to me. Tell me your story. How did you come to this conclusion, and why in the Mighty Morphin’ Power Fuck did you jam what you thought was a 300 year old silk kimono in a tree? The people wish to know.
I like to send the weirder things I find to Roza because of course I do. Kimono in trees is actually not as unusual as I think it should be. We’re on the same wavelength there.
With that mess of musings out of the way, enter today’s piece. I was expecting some work to do with this one, and I was expecting it to be a long-haul because of the washed out body color. Have a look.
And then when it arrived, help! Somebody has shit my pants. Holy aforementioned shit, these colors! She’s damn near perfect! And so…
Brightly Colored Flowers In Full Bloom With Birds In Romantic Chase On Vibrant Blue Silk.
Oh, look. It’s time for the actual showcase. I’ve spent so much time shitposting that we almost forgot why we were here. To stare at this delicious antique irotomesode (formal women’s kimono with five crests, a color that isn’t black with a pattern on the hem). And you know what, after introducing you to the circus of photography that is USA kimono buying, I think today I’ll just let her speak for herself for a moment.
The silk is a deep blue, almost ultramarine. It is soft and thin as pre-WWII antiques tend to be. I’m still very careful about what I slap the “Taisho” label on when I don’t have provenance, but I’m starting to become more confident in my own ability to recognize dye and theme trends across specific years and decades. This kimono displays both hand painted yuzen (resist dying), and stenciled (katagami/katazome) work. To accent the flowers, there are also parts such as the pollens of the kiku (chrysanthemums) that are embroidered. The entire design is enclosed in a sweet resist dyed shape that is instantly recognizeable as yukiwa (snow crystal).
On the foliage of some of the flowers, we see small areas of gold embroidery, symbolizing dewdrops. This embroidery thread is so very fine, and this style is not something we see much of as time moves forward.
Across the colorful plants, we see a pair of birds in chase. This is a spring themed kimono for sure, and of course with spring comes horny birds. We know what they’re up to.
Join me next time when I’ll be screeching into the void about something or other that excites me. I’m looking to finish a tutorial for pigment replacement for fading, as we know. I also have some new stain removal products to test for you. I’ve done some hard tests on my guinea pig kimono, and we’re ready to see how they do in real world applications. I also have a metric fuck ton of kimono to photograph.