A Beautiful Silk Han Juban: Shibori Fragments
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
25" x 24", 63.5 cm x 61 cm
This is a brightly colored, hand pieced and hand stitched silk han juban, a half-under kimono.
Brightly colored undergarments were worn in old Japan as a way of enjoying unbridled color combinations--in an age when kimono in somber tones were expected to be worn, and in Edo period the government enforced laws dictating to most of the population to wear dark colors, the exuberance of color was a secret luxury, not to be seen in public.
On front and back of this han juban there are about twenty stripes of silks and three types of shibori are shown. The orange colored stripes are of benibana or safflower dye while some of the other colors, the purple in particular, seem to be a synthetic dye, not uncommon in the late nineteenth century. The collar and lining are synthetically dyed cotton.
Look carefully at the beautiful arrangement and lay out of the pieces of silk that comprise this undergarment: this combination of purple, orange and blue seems to be a traditional one for silk undergarments: in the old days, when botanical dyes were the only ones available, orange was derived from safflower, purple was derived from gromwell root and blue from, of course, indigo.
A richly colored, hand made han juban from old Japan, slightly fragile but bold in spirit.