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Item Details
A tsumugi silk summer kimono featuring a goose-in-flight foreground and storm-cloud background. The geese were created using the tsutsugaki technique with sumi-e outlining, the grasses with sumi-e, and the clouds apparently pigment-dye brushing. 59 inches across shouldrs x 58 inches height. When this kimono was first created, the sleeves were longer, and then later tucked in to make shorter perhaps during the 1930’s or 40’s, and likely at the same time when the inside white cotton patches were added to the seating area and neck. We have taken out the short sleeve stitching to reveal the original longer sleeves. Tsumugi (pongee) is a silk fabric woven from the floss remaining in the silkworm cocoon after the full threads have been removed. The tsumugi fabric of this kimono has the approximate texture and feel of a very high-quality handmade linen. Tsumugi is highly prized in Japan and one of the most expensive kimono fabrics despite its humble origins. The slubs (rough lines in the weaving) are created by spinning the silk. Initially tsumugi fabric is very stiff, due to the starch applied during spinning, but the more times it is worn and washed, the softer it becomes. Very old tsumugi is as soft as silk fabric woven from untwisted threads. Broken threads left inside the silk cocoon are collected by the farmer. These are degummed in a hot water bath with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sulfurous acid (a mild bleach). After rinsing, they are hung to dry out of direct sunlight. After drying, the silk floss is placed in a bath of ground sesame seeds and water. The oil from the sesame seeds makes it easier to draw individual threads to be spun. The floss is handspun. The spinner uses saliva to adhere the new threads to the old ones. This produces the characteristic sheen and stiffness of tsumugi. After spinning, the thread is dyed and then woven into tsumugi. A short note on the tsutsugaki technique used to create the goose: tsutsugaki is a Japanese technique of resist dyeing that involves drawing rice-paste designs on cloth, dyeing the cloth, and then washing off the paste. There is a possibility that the artwork was created by the famous Japanese artist, Ohara Koson, whose artwork is similar to this and whose career coincided with the creation of this kimono.
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