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Kimono (kurotomesode)

The kimono is the national costume of Japan for both men and women. Its style has evolved over many centuries and today it is worn mostly for special occasions. Fabrics for kimonos cover a wide spectrum from plain to fancy, depending on the kimono’s societal function. A fancy kimono such as this one, with its exuberant painting of flying cranes, is taken apart before being washed, which is why the maker created the design on each panel separately before assembling the finished garment.

Where was this textile created?

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Kimono (kurotomesode)
Asia: East Asia, Japan
Early to mid 20th century
Silk, woven, dyed with stencil and paste resist patterns outlined in gold
132 cm x 155 cm
Gift of Fred Braida
T85.0850 Textile Museum of Canada

The most formal kimono worn by married Japanese women is the black tomesode with five family crests. This one is shown without the accessories that usually complete it, including an obi (wide belt), narrow braided ties, and at least one “under-kimono.” The white basting threads along the seams are removed before wearing. A kimono is a one-size-fits-all garment. To adjust it for a different body size, the wearer folds a portion of the extra length under the obi. Folding adds to the kimono’s distinctive straight silhouette.

With the exception of the painted gold outlines, the seven brightly coloured cranes flying in a landscape of waves and stylized pine branches are repeated exactly on the inside of the kimono. This inner design is crafted with the same meticulous precision as the exterior, even though almost none of the interior decoration shows when the kimono is worn.

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