|2004 Spring - Antiques Intro - Chests - Porcelain & Lacquerware - Prints, Screens & Scrolls -
Textiles & Kimono - Antique Shops in Tokyo & Kyoto
Antique Japanese Textiles & Kimono
Kogire Edo-period textiles reveal the true meaning of "handmade"
Colorful antique kimono have become a popular interior decoration element. Most of the supply found in shops today was actually mass-produced in the Meiji period or later. Take a closer look at truly valuable, hand-dyed and hand-woven antique textile scraps and you will quickly see a difference.
Foreign dealers were the first to recognize the value of kogire, or antique textiles. With that, their popularity and price soared ten-fold in Japan as well. Most popular, however, were textiles mass-produced in the Meiji period or later.
||Linen fragments (for display) are all early Edo period. These pieces range from 250,000 yen to 550,000 yen. The red and white piece could be a fragment of a noh costume.
"That's why I would like to draw attention to dying and weaving from the Edo period and earlier," says Akariya owner Shinsaburo Shibuya. "They show what handmade really looks and feels like."
On the whole, Edo-period dyeing and weaving are modest in color, with none of the splendor seen in Meiji and later pieces. In contrast to the latter, however, which were mass-produced, Edo textiles are the crystallization of handiwork in the true sense of the word, beginning with the spinning of the thread.
||Linen remnants from summer clothing, mid-Edo period. Fragments of linen show an indigo-dyed wave pattern. The varied shades of indigo indicate different vat dyeings. The decorative motif indicates this was high-ranking samurai-class clothing.
The different verbs used for thread-makingfor silk, ito wo tsumugu (spinning something wooly into thread), and for linen, ito wo umu (tearing something ribbonlike to threads)?ttest to the high degree of skill involved. Superior-quality linen, called jofu, woven from that thread has the fineness and sheen of silk with a softness, smoothness, and subtlety that is uniquely Japanese.
Very few Edo-period textiles remain intact (those that do are mostly in museums), making textile scraps about the only thing available today. Collectors with the imaginative powers to appreciate the days of handmade things will understand the value of living with even small remnants.
Resist-dyeing flowered among common folk
Tsutsugaki: In this dyeing technique used by the common people, paper tubes of paste were squeezed over a textile to draw resist designs. Dynamic and highly artistic tsutsugaki (literally, tube-drawn) motifs often decorated trousseau pieces to wish a daughter happiness in marriage, or celebrated a child's birth.
||Kyogen theater costume with crane motif is from the late Edo to Meiji period, 330,000 yen.
For kogire, see our listings for Akariya antique shop and Morita antique shop.
Antique kimono in vogue with youngsters
What's fueling the current antique kimono craze? According to Konjaku owner Gai Nishimura, "The natural materials used to make cloth and dyes in the olden days were unpolluted, so the textiles are incomparably more beautiful than anything produced today. Moreover, highly skilled craftsmen performed every step of the kimono-making process by hand, so pieces are very comfortable to wear." That antique charm has caught the eye of young people pursuing individualistic fashion.
|"Flowing sleeve" kimono, Showa period (1970), 300,000 yen in perfect condition. This yuzen-dyed and embroidered piece features auspicious motifs. It is technically of very high quality. Woven obi are the most gorgeous and are worn on formal occasions. Taisho-period obi at right are priced from 50,000 yen.
Articles from the 2004 SPRING issue:
Kateigaho International Edition Issues:
2005 SUMMER - 2005 SPRING - 2005 WINTER
2004 AUTUMN - 2004 SUMMER - 2004 SPRING - 2004 WINTER
2003 AUTUMN - INAUGURAL ISSUE