The Kimono Gallery

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Item Details
Taisho period (1912-1926)
A "sha" (simple gauze) chirimen silk hitoe (unlined) summer kimono featuring woven carp motifs. The fine silk threads are tightly twisted, yielding a slightly raspy texture. Note that the kimono blue background in the gallery image appears inconsistent -- this is not the case, but was due to the trouble of getting even lighting on a sheer gauze fabric. 49" from sleeve-end to sleeve-end x 60" height. During the Edo period (1603-1868) there developed an aesthetic in Japan called "iki", which connotes to a combination of simplicity, purity, and sophistication. "Less is more." This "iki" aesthetic was not as much utilized by the time of Meiji period (1868-1911), yet this Taisho (1912-1926) kimono is a perfect example of this "iki" Japanese aesthetic. The various carp on this kimono all differ from each other -- some are large, some are small; each was colored by different-colored woven threads; and some have white hand-painted lines of separation between the body segment, while others do not. There is an unusual detail on this kimono that cements the fact that this kimono was a very expensive and special project. That is, the artist has taken the effort to delicately paint in missing parts of several carp across the seam line that divides the front and back panels -- see some of the detail images to view this work closely. It is highly unusual for a kimono designer to take the extra time to do this -- normally, if a motif is "cut off" at the edge of a panel, and cannot be lined up with an equivalent on the adjacent panel, it is and was customary to ignore the problem. Let's now take a look at the symbolism of the carp motifs. The fish's coloring also has something to do with its symbolism. Certain colors represent certain aspects or outcomes in life. For example, "Kohaku carp have a white body with red spots and symbolizes success in your career; "Kumonryu" with an all black body symbolizes life changes and transformations; the "Ogon" is a solid silver symbolically represents success in business and wealth; and the white and red "Kuchibeni" represents love and long lasting relationships.
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