Black awase hiro eri kimono of the kuro tomesode type, delicately hand embroidered and hand-painted with various Japanese motifs such as kawa, yama, také, karakusa, kiku, ume, botan, kakitsubata, tabane noshi, haru no tori and ogi. The fabric is habutae, a smooth, glossy silk with a fine weave.
Dress Length: 157 cm | 61.8"
Sleeve Length: 33 cm | 13"
Shoulder to Shoulder: 63 cm | 24.8"
Exterior 100% satin silk
Lining satin silk and taffeta
Conventionally used by married women at formal occasions, a tomesode is a formal kimono which features imposing and meticulous patterns below the waistline, often including the golden color. Small mon (crests) on the shoulders and sleeves are also usual. The more mon – one, three or five – the more formal the occasion it may be worn at. Black ones are called kuro tomesode (more formal) and any colour other than black are called iro tomesode (less formal). These are now only worn by the mother of the bride at the wedding.
Awase is a lined kimono, exclusively worn between October and May (from Autumn to Spring in Japan), with a hiro eri lapel. In hiro eri, the collar is wide and its inside is not sewn to the body. When put on, the lapel can be folded in two to feature the widht desired and fall naturally toward the erisaki (the bottom of the collar). It is used in many women’s kimonos.
Kawa (river or winding stream) represents continuity and the future.
Yama (mountain) depicts sacred places between heaven and earth. Birds flying over mountains signify overcoming life’s challenges.
Také (bamboo) is one of the “Three Friends of Winter" and is traditionally used as a ranking system in Japan. Matsu (pine) is considered of the first rank, také of the second and ume (plum) of the third. Because of its sturdy root structure and its simplicity, it is a symbol of prosperity, purity and innocence.
Karakusa (arabesque) is an ornamental pattern consisting of interwined flowing lines inspired by stalks and tendrils and by the links between the leaves and vines of plants. Originated in the western Asia region, it spread throughout the world. A grape and arabesque motif can often be seen in the art of Persia during the Sassanid dynasty (300-700 CE). The pattern is thought to have entered Japan in the fifth century via the Silk Road from China.
Kiku (chrysanthemum) represents longevity and rejuvenation. When first introduced in Japan during the Nara Period (ad 710–784), the Japanese royal family was fascinated with the flower. Eventually, during the passing of the years, the chrysanthemum became the imperial family emblem. Even now, it is used as the imperial symbol of Japan and figures on the Japanese passport. No plant is used in such a multitude of patterns as the chrysanthemum. The Chrysanthemum Festival, or Choyo or Kikuno-Sekku, is celebrated on the ninth month in the lunar calendar. It is an old Chinese custom that made its way to Japan and was adopted mainly at court. On that day, activities included drinking saké with chrysanthemum petals floating in it and wearing cotton that has been placed on top of the flowers overnight to soak up their dew. Drinking chrysanthemum saké was believed to ward off malevolence and ensure a long life.
Ume is the plum blossom. Because plum trees bloom in winter, there is a saying that "the plum is the first among flowers". Prior to the Nara period (710-94), the word "flower" generally indicated the plum blossom, and in the Man'yoshu, an eight-century anthology of Japanese poetry, there are more verses about plum blossoms than cherry blossoms. A cherry tree now stands to the left of the Hall for State Ceremonies at the Imperal Palace, but originally a plum tree stood there and remained until after the Heian period (794-1185). Ume is commonly associated with luck, nobility, purity, devotion and protection against evil.
Botan (peony), which blooms in late Spring, has been justly called the "king of flowers". It is believed to have been firs introduced to Japan from China during the Nara period (710-94). Later, in the Heian period (794-1185), it was cultivated at temples throughout the country, grown at first for its medicinal properties and later for its beauty. In the late Muromachi period (1334-1537), the peony started making an appearance in paintings and sculpture. But it was not until the Edo period (1615-1868) that peonies became all the rage and numerous ornamental varieties were grown. This period also saw the cultivation of a winter blooming variety whose roots and blossoms are protected under canopies of straw. Love of the peonies continues to endure and it has remained a favorite kimono motif up to this day, symbolizing wealth, nobility and ageless beauty.
Kakitsubata (iris) are beautiful flowers that bloom in Japan around May. The Japanese iris is distinguished by a yellow line at the base of the petals. If the line is white, it is a rabbitear iris, while a mesh pattern indicates a flag iris. The elegant forms of irises have made them popular as kimono designs since olden times. They are often depicted with flowing water on summer kimono and are especially valuable as motifs for expressing the water's edge. They are also often shown with yatsuhashi, bridges that run in a zigzag course. Iris root has a pleasant fragrance and in the Heian era was used by noble families as gifts or to decorate roofs. The flower offers protection from evil spirits.
Since the twelfth century, it has been a Japanese custom to attach a formal decoration called noshi to gifts to express good wishes. Contemporary noshi are made from red and white folded paper with a yellow strip of paper at the center, but originaly the yellow paper comprised finely sliced abalone (awabi) which had deen dried and stretched thinly. Considered a token of good fortune, this was known as noshi-awabi and the pattern that represents it is called noshi-moyou. Variations depicted bundles of streched abalone with uneven ends. A celebratory pattern, noshi-moyou is often seen decorating wedding kimono. The strips usually contain other auspicious motifs, like kiku (chrysanthemum) or tsuru (crane).
Haru no tori means “birds of Spring” A bewildering variety of birds, large and small, congregating in flocks or singled out as a lone motif, are ubiquitous motifs in all areas of Japanese art. Spring is the breeding season for small birds. It is possible that choosing an obi decorated with small birds at this time of year was common during times of courtship. Small birds designs feature prominently on obi, kimono and other youg women’s items from the early Showa period (1926-88). The small bird patterns from this era were not constrained by the classic designs from the Edo period (1615-1868). Rather, there is an abundance of imaginative, charming designs. “Birds and flowers” was already a standard motif in design and pictures in Japan. Using Wester-style flowers and exchanging native birds for parrots, canaries and such like seems to have met little resistance.
Ogi (fan) is very important in Japanese culture. Although the foldable fan originated in Japan and was introduced to China in the early tenth century, it was the Chinese technique of placing paper on both sides of the blades, which come together at the base to form a handle, that led to a new Japanese form called suehiro. Apart from their function of creating a breeze, they have become indispensable in exchanging greetings and at ceremonial occasions. They are a versatile design in kimonos - fans can be depicted opened out, layered one over the other to resemble ocean waves, or placed, for example, to resemble butterflies or chrysanthemums; they can also be scattered in various guises to form a pattern or fulfill the role of a canvas in which various designs can be incorporated. In traditional Japanese textile design, fans are associated with the "Seven Gods of Good Luck" and are very auspicious. Because they can be spread out, have come to symbolize development, expansion and prosperity. Also, its small ends represent birth and the blades symbolize the many possible paths leading away from this beginning.