Summer Robe (Katabira) with Autumn Flowers and Insect Cages


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In Japan, insects beloved for their chirping song were sometimes caught or purchased and kept in cages. This unlined summer robe features a variety of insect cages amid autumn grasses on an indigo blue ground that suggests cool autumn days and the color of water—a favorite conceit for summer kimonos. The design is rendered using paste-resist dyeing (yūzen) and embroidery. The scattered, glinting gold embroidery evokes the quality of light on an autumn day. The insect-cage design was already popular in the early Edo period and is depicted in the earliest woodblock-printed book of patterns for kimonos, published in 1666.

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