Edo Period 'komon' Asa Kimono, Unlined
57 1/4" x 46", 145 cm x 117 cm
This is a gorgeously detailed kimono from the final years of Japan's Edo Period (1603-1867) which is decorated with an absolutely minuscule pattern known as 'komon.' This pattern is comprised of figures no more than 1/8" each, each made of a series of tiny dots: the technique used to create this pattern is a stencil based rice-paste resist technique called katazome.
To create the stencil for this, mulberry paper was saturated with green persimmon tannin, then smoked to create a kind of durability; the blank stencil is then painstakingly cut by a master artisan. The technique to apply rice paste through the stencil onto the cloth is highly specialized, but simply put, rice pasted is squeegeed through the stencil, the stencil is repeatedly moved over the entire area of the cloth, the cloth is then dyed, the areas impregnated with rice paste resist dye and a pattern cloth is born. This dyeing technique--especially as applied to komon patterns--requires the skilled hands of extremely gifted and well-trained artists.
The base cloth is either hemp or ramie and the color is reminiscent of sumi-e ink . There are three crests--kiri, or paulownia--on the kimono: near the nape of the neck and on the two sleeves. The overall condition is fine, there are a few areas of 'smudged' looking pattern here and there (shown), but the piece otherwise is a fantastically vivid document dating from the end of feudal Japan.
A rare and wonderful addition to any textile collection.