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Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts

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Woman's Over-Robe (Uchikake) with Design of Mandarin Oranges and Folded Paper Ornaments

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
late 18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Tie-dyed satin damask with silk embroidery and gold couching
Dimensions:
69 1/2 x 48 1/2 in. (176.5 x 123.2 cm)
Classification:
Textiles-Costumes
Credit Line:
Gift of Ilse Bischoff, 1976
Accession Number:
1976.108
  • Description

    On view Rotation 2, November 9, 2013–January 12, 2014

    The outer robe, or uchikake, is worn, without a sash, over a kosode (garment with “small-sleeve” openings) on formal occasions. It originated in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) as a garment for high-ranking samurai ladies, and later was used more widely as formal winter attire. In traditional marriage ceremonies the uchikake is worn over the wedding kimono. Extra padding is inserted into the hem to provide a seamless flow of the train.

    Wedding uchikake are decorated with auspicious motifs such as the folded-paper butterflies depicted here. The butterflies are depicted in pairs, male and female, to represent the newly wedded couple. Such folded-paper butterflies were also used to adorn presents attached to thin strips of paper. “Butterfly” in Japanese is pronounced chō, which sounds like the word for “long” (長), so it symbolizes a long and happy marriage. The evergreen mandarin orange (tachibana) tree is executed in tie-dying (shibori) on a patterned black silk satin damask (rinzu) background. Teal, red, and gold details are added in embroidery and gold couching.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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