Boy’s Kimono with Lucky Thread Balls (Temari) and Bullets


Not on view

This boy’s kimono features a disturbing combination of cherubic soldiers alongside weapons of war and symbols of Japanese imperialism, imagery associated with strength and bravery that was appealing to the parents of young men during wartime. Some of the boys sit atop temari (lucky thread balls made as New Year’s gifts), while others carry swords. Their garments feature military insignia, warplanes, and nationalistic messages, including the word Shingun, or “Divine Army.” While some carry flags of Japan, others wave flags of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (Manchuria, in northeast China). These visual references to warfare and the occupation of Manchuria, which Japan invaded in 1931 and controlled until 1945, incorporated notions of military aggression and expansionism into daily life.

Boy’s Kimono with Lucky Thread Balls (Temari) and Bullets, Printed plain-weave rayon and silk, Japan

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