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Item Details
Early Showa period (1926-1940)
A chirimen (crepe) silk kimono featuring shibori-dyed motifs of yellow and red camellias. Spaced silver and gold metallic thread inserts create vertical highlights. 49" from sleeve-end to sleeve-end x 59" height. The camellia, called 'tsubaki" in Japan, is a symbol of spring, and has a long tradition in Japan. During the Heian period of a thousand years ago, in the book "A Tale of Genji", the “sudden death” which camellias symbolized could as well be the sudden death of dreams, illusions, & love affairs. There was tragedy in camellias because they are simultaneously things of great beauty and of transience, indicative of the “sadness of things” in Buddhist philosophy. From China, the Japanese associate the two main parts of the camellia -- the petals and the calyx, which holds the petals -- with a young woman and young man, respectively. Just as a young man protects and supports the young woman he loves, the calyx protects the petals. This association also explains the far eastern belief that camellias symbolize pure, devoted love because when the flower's petals fall off, so does the calyx. This characteristic is rare among flowers. The different colours of camellia has different associations, pertinent to the red and yellow flowers on this kimono: red camellias represents 'love' , while yellow camellias represents 'longing'. Tie-dying the camellia motifs would have been exacting to create a realistic camellia outline. The aesthetics of the 'stream' of camellia motifs is unusual and effective. This is another example of Taisho-period artists taking traditional motifs, and presenting them in new ways.
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