A Hand Painted 19th Century Child's Kimono Panel: Joufu
ca. mid to late nineteenth century
40" x 12 1/4", 101.5 cm x 31 cm
This is a panel of extremely deftly woven, hand plied hemp or ramie which is lightweight, beautifully soft in the hand and with a marvelous drape. The hemp or ramie fibers are hair-thin, which is the reason that this joufu, or superior quality asa cloth, is as remarkable as it is.
Add to that the complex and masterful hand painted scene of an ancient Chinese woman, standing by the banks of a body of water, and surrounded by an almost-psychedelic backdrop of oversized paulownia and Chinese bell flowers, holding up a small boy while another one stands behind her, begging to be lifted and held. A very charming scene, and one that is rich, full and beautifully realized using deft brushwork and very few colors. The image of roly poly Chinese boys is a recurring motif in Chinese ceramic painting; they are symbols of high minded Confucian, Taoist or Buddhist values that concern long life, abundance and the like, but they are also wishes for a family rich in many sons.
The cloth of this linen-like fragment is beautifully wrinkled from time, the wrinkles seem to be set in the cloth. There is some surface soiling and a spray of staining to the kimono fragment, a slice or hole of 1" or 2.5 cmin length, and the family crest at the top of the cloth is of stylized bamboo leaves.
Fascinating and beautifully hand painted.