Summer robe (hito-e) with cranes and pines


Not on view

This early Meiji summer kimono was made of an unusually thin, elegant silk fabric, appropriate for the season. The gray color and the distribution of the patterns around the right front flap and the lower sections of the sleeves follows late Edo period traditions. Paste-resist dyeing, with the skillful use of the gradation technique, finely renders the gradual progression from orange-beige to gray on this garment. Early Meiji period kimonos often have a gray or dark ground and decoration concentrated along the hemline. Here, the composition with auspicious cranes and pines, associated with longevity, is carefully hand-painted (tegaki yūzen) against the bright colors of sunrise, while the rest of the robe is still in twilight shadow. The composition was inspired by ink paintings. The design scheme is based on the kosode style that became popular among merchant-class women at the end of the Edo period (1615–1868). Since the left panel overlaps the right, much of the crane-pine pattern would ordinarily be obscured, coming to light only as the wearer walked. The hito-e comes with a white undergarment, which would have been worn with the summer robe to protect the fine silk garment.

Summer robe (hito-e) with cranes and pines, Plain-weave silk with paste-resist dyeing, Japan

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