Robe ("Kosode") with Hats, Fans, Cherry Blossoms and Calligraphy


Robe ("Kosode") with Hats, Fans, Cherry Blossoms and Calligraphy

Textiles / Edo

Edo period, 18th century

Plain-weave silk crepe ([chirimen])

身丈151.0 裄61.5


The kosode is a type of garment with small wrist openings that formed the basis for the modern kimono. This example in white and purple silk features designs of hanging folding fans and conical bamboo hats created using a distinctive Japanese dyeing technique.

A closer inspection reveals embroidered writing in red silk and gold threads throughout the design. These are simple katakana characters, which would have been easy for women of the townspeople class to read. These characters form part of a famous poem in praise of the cherry trees that bloom at the ancient capital of Nara. The robe is also embroidered with designs of cherry blossoms in keeping with the poem.

During the Edo period (1603–1868), unmarried women wore furisode robes with long, hanging sleeves. After marriage, however, women switched to shorter-sleeved tomesode robes. The designs on the sleeves of this kosode are cut off at the bottoms, indicating that its owner may have had them tailored following her marriage. This detail tells us that the owners of this garment treasured it and altered it to suit different wearers and time periods in order to continue wearing it.

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