It’s not enough. We have to go deeper.

Why yes, that was indeed a reference to Inception as today’s subject line. Not only is it one of my favourite movies of the year (and possibly of all time), it is entirely relevant to the kimono I received this morning. If you’re familiar with Inception, the concept of a “dream within a dream” will be very familiar to you. So imagine someone like me, who dreams of kimono regularly, finding “kimono within kimono.”

When I first saw it on eBay I was completely smitten. It is a kurotomesode (short sleeved, five-crested black formal kimono), which is definitely something I don’t need more of. However, rather than the relatively typical celebratory designs of cranes, flowers, carts, fans, etc, the pattern on this kimono is… kimono! All around the inside and outside hem of this kimono are wooden racks with kimono out to dry, as well as bowls and tools for washing. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I knew I had to have it. It ended up going for a bit more than I’d hoped to spend, but was still well worth the investment.

Both the age and the usage of this kimono are a bit of a mystery. The design is very avante-garde and non-standard for a normal woman, and the hem is slightly padded, which weigh in the favour of it being a hikizuri of some sort. The length of the kimono is also longer than average for its apparent age, but not quite long enough to be proper hikizuri. It may have been made for a particularly short geisha, or possibly just a very stylish woman. It’s hard to say. The sleeves are lined in red, which is a typical element of Taisho and early Showa era kimono, but they are slightly shorter than average for that era. The body is also lined in white, not red, but that may have been replaced at some point during its lifespan.

Update, April 22, 2012 – Naomi recently discovered the existence of a motif known as tagasode, or “whose sleeves?”

Literally, “whose sleeves?.” Painting theme depicting beautiful kimono 着物 draped across a wooden rack, ikou 依桁. The subject was usually painted on folding screens *byoubu 屏風 and became popular in the late Momoyama and early Edo periods (16c and early 17c). Although the subject is highly decorative, the word tagasode has deep literary connotations and probably originated from a line in KOKIN WAKASHUU 古今和歌集 (905): “Iro yorimo/ka koso aware to /omohoyure/tagasode fureshi/yado no ume zomo 色よりも/香こそあはれと/おもほゆれ/誰が袖ふれし/宿の梅ぞも”. Tagasode often implies a beautiful woman whose absence is missed, since beautiful sleeves are thought to evoke the image of an elegant woman and the fragrance arising from her kimono.
In early examples, typical objects belonging to a room in the pleasure quarters or even a beautiful woman herself were depicted; a screen in the Burke Collection, New York (early 17c), includes a musical instrument, koto 琴, while two young women are painted on early 17c screens in the Nezu 根津 Museum, Tokyo. Variations on the tagasode theme became more removed from literary associations, and finally the kimono and stand remains as the only motifs depicted against gold foil background. There are many examples from the Edo period, often by unknown genre artists.

 

source – JAANUS, tagasode

Outside view
Meta-Kimono

Inside view
Meta-Kimono

Outer details
Meta-Kimono

Meta-Kimono

Meta-Kimono

Inner details
Meta-Kimono

Meta-Kimono

It’s absolutely beautiful up close – everything is covered in tiny and delicate patterns, from the kimono to the racks holding them up. The kimono are all outlined in gold couching thread which is in impeccable condition, no drooping or detached threads anywhere that I can find.

I seem to have a knack for finding kimono that are technically kurotomesode but have characteristics that may throw them off. My chidori and matsu hybrid kimono is another prime example. As for this piece, it may be an oddity, and I may not know who wore it or when, but I love it nonetheless.

Share

8 Comments

  1. I have a kurotomesode like this! The hem is lightly padded, the lining is red, and the lower lining is painted in yuzen to match the outside. I thought it might be a hikizuri but it’s really, really short. It’s stored away at the moment, so I can’t look at the way the sleeves were attached or measured the okumi, but it’s nice to know!

    Mine has waves, with tachibana on it.

  2. I love it! Was it an ebay purchase? You do have a knack for finding beautiful kimono. Love the cupcake photos too!

    • It is indeed an eBay purchase. There’s one seller that regularly has amazing things but he takes godawful photos so a lot of things slip by. The pink kimono I wore on my birthday was from the same seller, actually.

  3. it looks much like a hiki to me, being the inside has a design too. I bet it was for someone short. (they were and are shorter then us)

    oh man!!! what a beauty!

  4. Oh, my dream furisode that I lost was one of these. It was creamy white with gray shibori clouds and orange kimono hanging from racks. I should have gone for it because I’ve kicked myself ever since.

    I love the fact that the kimono racks themselves are decorative, too. Especially the checked one.

  5. Super gorgeous! I totally adore it and the motif, and totally dig the details in all the kimono.
    Erica recently posted..Halloween Weekend Kimono Coordinate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    You may like...