Exhibitions/ Art Object

Summer Robe with Waves and Cormorant Fishing

Shōwa period (1926–89)
ca. 1925–50
Silk, silk embroidery, silver-wrapped threads, and gold-painted accents; paste-resist dyed, hand painted
Overall: 59 7/8 x 50 3/8 in. (152.1 x 128 cm)
Credit Line:
John C. Weber Collection
Not on view
Birds playfully hover, dive, and swim amid waves as fishing weirs, boats, and wild pinks—executed in paste-resist dyeing, embroidery, and gold- and silver-leaf accents—float nearby to impart a sense of spatial depth to this scene. These motifs allude to the summer pastime of cormorant fishing, a well-referenced theme in poems, Noh plays, and paintings. Evocative of warm summer evenings, the combination of cormorants and wild pinks (tokonatsu, or “everlasting summer”) on this lightweight garment were linked to the sixth month in a poem by Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241). During cormorant-fishing season, wild pinks blossomed, while fishermen dangled flares from their boats to attract fish, a vignette visible at the lower right back and lower left front of this kimono. The background of swirling water patterns, a syncopated re-envisioning of the native Rinpa and the exotic Art Nouveau styles, is woven into the textured ground fabric in what appear to be supplementary weft-lacquered threads.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art," May 26, 2012–January 13, 2013.