Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Kimono Collection Get an Airing-Out

It might be my stomach virus's doing, but I feel compelled to post about something near and dear to my heart: my kimono collection.

I'm not Japanese by any stretch of the imagination, but something about these graceful garments has captivated me. Therefore, as I'm too weak to do much else, I'll put up some of the pictures of my little collection. It requires, unfortunately, that reader uses his/her imagination since my house is in no way a photographer's paradise.

So, we begin!

Though technically not a kimono, this haori is by far the most "useful" to me of the bunch. It's traditionally used as a kimono overcoat, but I wear it to synagogue to cover my shoulders.

A detail from the haori. It's the design that really made me fall in love with this piece. The colors, the trailing ribbons, the way the fans are situated-- very appealing.

Next, my tomesode. Tomesode are worn by married women to formal occasions, such as weddings. I believe that I got this particular kimono because I really wanted a tomesode and this one was cheap on Ebay. Being a student of very little means, I can't be incredibly choosy. No matter, it's simple and I like it.

Detail of the tomesode's embroidery. I believe that it's a lion, but it could be a Korean dog. Whatever the animal, the green color is beautiful.

Here's a rather fetching furisode that has been, unfortunately, been hung rather haphazardly on the wall. It's also unfortunate that the picture had to feature my ancient paper weight of a computer; the hanger is too high for me to reach. Furisode, by the way, is Japanese for "swinging sleeves" and is worn only by young, unmarried women. It is said that in order to attract a husband, women would wear sleeves long enough to flutter when they walked in order to catch a man's eye.

The final kimono in my collection is an uchikake, a wedding kimono. This picture doesn't really get across just how massive this thing really is; it's the width and length of a single twin bed. The hem of the garment is stuffed with cotton, lending to the kimono's surprising weight. My mother is convinced that I will get married in this kimono, but I doubt I would even be able to lug the thing down the aisle.

This is the only obi I own, but I guess that's a good thing as it costs about as much as a really nice kimono on eBay. The length of silk is doubled over on itself, so it's actually about as long as I am tall. It's kind of an obnoxious orange color that doesn't match any of the kimonos I own, but the crane is nice.

So that's the extent of my collection currently, but I am expecting a large box of random kimonos in the near future. If I'm satisfied with them, I'll take pictures.

If you have an interest in kimono and would like to learn more, there are several books I would recommend.

The Book of Kimono by Nario Yamanaka-- My first book on kimono. Some very nice pictures with short explanations dealing with the history of the clothing and how to wear it.

Kimono: Fashioning Culture by Liza Dalby-- I highly recommend this book. Dalby was the first Western woman to become a geisha and, as an anthropologist, has written a brilliant and entertaining history of the kimono.

Kimono by Paul Van Riel-- Not big on information, but has tons of full-color pictures.

I would also say that eBay is a fantastic source for very nice vintage kimonos.

Anyway, thanks for hanging in there with me!


PS. Update: The Llara Brook count is now up to 958 on Google and has (somehow) made it on to WilliamShatner.com.

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