A Remarkable Paper Kimono: Hingata or Practice Kimono
ca. late nineteenth, early twentieth century
27" x 24 1/2", 68.5 cm x 62 cm
This hand stiched hinagata made from recycled ledger paper is as beautiful as it is rare. Hinagata are miniature garments which were stitched in order to learn how to sew full size clothing; they are almost always sewn from cloth.
This one, however, is stitched from paper, and it appears that paper leaves with their red stamps from old ledger books were used in place of cloth in order to learn to properly stitch a kimono.
This is just remarkable; it is a scaled down kimono. In its present condition you could say that it is the size of a small child's, but most likely it is this small size for ease of practice.
Notice the red "50" written on the back of the hinagata: this gives us a clue to its age. Arabic numbers were new to Japan in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and started being used around that time, so whenever this "50" was drawn on the paper--when the paper was still in a book or after the hinagata was created (which is more likely)--we know it was certainly done at the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th.
Note the profusion of small holes throughout the piece.
A rare and special treasure from old Japan.