Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

御所解文字模様単衣
Unlined Kimono with Landscape and Poem

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
second half of the 18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Silk gauze (ro); silk embroidery and resist dyeing
Dimensions:
64 x 47 1/4 in. (162.5 x 120 cm)
Classification:
Costumes
Credit Line:
Gift of Margaret Wishard, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Luther D. Wishard, 1974
Accession Number:
1974.278
Not on view
This light, unlined robe (hitoe) is designed for summer. On a blue background, flowers and plants of the four seasons are depicted in a landscape setting. Spring flowers are represented along the hem; upward we see wisteria and other summer plants; toward the middle appear autumnal maple leaves; and around the neckline and on the sleeves grow winter pines, including young pines. Thus turns the eternal cycle of the seasons, and with it the passage of time in a person’s life. Across the sleeves and upper body, the characters of a felicitous poem celebrating longevity and happiness make their graceful way from the front to the back of the robe. All these characters and notions have auspicious meanings. The expression “children of cranes” often symbolizes parental love and affection, as cranes rear children who live for a thousand years. The text reads:

(Front)
Toshi o iwau
yorozuyo no kame

Celebrating old age, turtles
live for ten thousand years,

(Reverse)
tsuru no ko wa
chiyo o kotobuku
hana nare ya

and the offspring of cranes
for a thousand years—
flourishing in their long lives

—Trans. Monika Bincsik
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