Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Kimono Ensemble with Design of a Poem and Stream

Taishō period (1912–26)
Dyed and embroidered silk crepe (chirimen)
a: H (shoulder to hem) 61 in. (154.9 cm); W (wrist opening to wrist opening) 50 in. (127 cm); b: H (shoulder to hem) 61 1/2 in. (156.2 cm); W (wrist opening to wrist opening) 50 in. (127 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Atsuko Irie, in honor of Suga Irie, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.487.3a, b
Not on view
The front and lower edges of the robes in this ensemble feature a stream meandering among rocks and baskets. Higeko (literally, "bearded baskets"), which get their name from their unfinished edges, are seen here along with stylized snow (yukiwa) and young shoots of spring plants, some of them uprooted. Flowing along the stream and highlighted among the baskets and rocks are hidden characters (ashide)—a motif that is comparatively common in lacquer design but much less frequent on textiles. The poem represented by the ashide is from chapter 23 of the Tale of Genji, "The First Warbler (Hatsune)," which is set on a day early in the year when young court women ceremonially pull up seedling pines and other spring plants. A lady long separated from her young daughter has sent her some New Year's delicacies in bearded baskets, along with this poem:

The old one's gaze rests long on the seedling pine,
Waiting now to hear the warbler's first song.

The underrobe includes a brightly dyed section that would normally not have been seen. The ensemble was made for a young woman in the Kyoto area before her wedding in 1922.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Written Image: Japanese Calligraphy and Paintings from the Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection," October 1, 2002–March 2, 2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Flowing Streams: Scenes from Japanese Arts and Life," December 21, 2006–June 3, 2007.

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