A Full Bolt of Meisen Silk: Unused
mid twentieth century
approximate length: 13 yards, 12 m
width: 14", 35.5 cm
This is a full, unused and unopened bolt of meisen silk, a kind of "everyday" silk that was developed in the Meiji era (1868 - 1912) at a time when Japan's strict sumptuary laws were lifted: these laws dictated what people were allowed to wear and consume (among many other things), notable among the strictures was a ban against common people wearing silk.
Meisen represents the democratization of silk in a changing Japan and it was consumed readily. Its boom market prompted huge manufacture, which, of course, meant that countless new designs needed to be developed.
Many of the classic meisen designs are based on Western design patterns, meisen is a kind of machine aided kasuri cloth, the quality of silk being pedestrian as these were kimono that were not expensive and were meant to be worn on a regular basis as "town wear."
This pattern shows a repeat of white squares which are decorated with geometric designs. The purplish color is actually a bit iridescent as the warp is of purple yarns and the weft is of green yarns, so in the light the color of this purple shifts and shines a bit.
As this bolt is unopened, it is not possible to say how long it is exactly, but the length quoted above is one of the standard kimono tanmono lengths.