Yorke Antique Textiles

A collection of antique and vintage textiles from around the world

Item Details
A remarkably refined silk woman's robe from the late Edo Period. The traditional auspicious motifs: pine trees, plum trees, flying cranes, mino-game turtles on huge rocks or by the ocean, are all symbols of longevity and happiness. The base cloth is a complex damask or brocade weave (see detail images). This is an example of painting on silk with 'bokashi', gradual shade dying accented with brush strokes (dry and not-so-dry) and embroideries. The inner lining is of a beni red sha silk. There is light padding between this inner and the outer patterned layer, giving the garment a slight overall stiffness. Near mint condition, with one difficult-to-find 2cm silk split within the patterned area. 50" from sleeve-end to sleeve-end x 59" height. Until the end of the Edo period the uchikake was a kimono worn by ladies of warrior or noble families on formal occasions. Most robes during the late Edo were patterned throughout: this example represents a rarer style that was patterned only below the waist. In terms of condition and refinement, this example is the best of this rare style that we have come across in the many years seeing, collecting and dealing Japanese garments. The nature scenery depicted in the pattern-work are accomplished by free-hand painting, yuzen-work, gold-thread couching and simple embroidery. The artwork is extremely refined; in fact this is the most sophisticated and intricate painting and embroidery that we have ever come across in a Japanese garment. There are 5 formal family crests on this robe. The fact that these Crests occur on a female's garment, indicates that this individual came from a family of very high social standing. The family crest utilized on this garment are rare: it is not contained in the John Dower publication that lists over 2,000 different crests. The crest is an amalgamation of two crests: the outer circumference contains a folded fan ('ogi' or 'sensu') motif, and the central portion is a square 'mesh" ('meyui'). The ideographs which this ancient pattern is described literally mean 'eye tie', in reference to an expensive dyeing process in which the material is puckered and tied before coloring, to produce a dappled effect. The robe is very light (less than a 500gm?), due to the fact that both the inner and outer silk layers are extremely fine. Unlike the more graphic examples, this subtle uchikake on first glance does not attract immediate attention, rather, as time goes by it's brilliance and subtlety gradually become manifest. Although in nearly perfect condition, this uchikake should not be worn, as the silk is so fine that it could not handle much stress; as a work of art to be displayed, perfect.
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