Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Library; Tanaka, Kikuo
||v. 2 : (chiefly illus.) ; 8 x 16 cm
Summer kimono / the color of blue sky... / morning pilgrimage (Kobayashi Issa, 1822) -- Few items evoke Japan in the Western imagination more than a kimono. Although literally translated as "what is worn," the kimono is far more than a utilitarian garment. Replete in symbolism in cut, color, and ornament, the finest kimono are unique works of art. -- The Meiji era (1868-1912) produced the elegant kimonos that are most familiar today. The overthrow of the Shogunate and the return of the Emperor brought the end of sumptuary restrictions and raised the status of the merchant class. These factors combined to bring a surge in the demand for and production of luxurious, custom-made kimonos. -- This period also marks Japan's first prolonged contact with the West. The spread of Western technology, mores, and customs across Japan resulted in an increased national pride in certain quarters. This manifested itself in the conspicuous display of the very Eastern kimono and a rejection of Western-style dress. -- The flow of cultural influence worked two ways. Photographic books created specifically for foreign consumption and the exportation of Japanese goods, particularly textiles--and kimono--fueled the fascination with all things Japanese, leading to the widespread Japanisme that flourished in both the fine and decorative arts. -- All of the works shown are from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library.
The display on a kimono of the mon or family crest (or house crest in the case of geisha) followed a strict protocol. The most formal robes, both male and female, carried five crests, three across the shoulder area in the back and two in the front. Less formal wear held three emblems, two in front and one in the center of the back. One crest was displayed on the back for more common wear. These emblems announced one's familial or, in certain cases, civic affiliation.