Once upon a time, an old man was walking around the temple courtyard. He was stopped by something in the air; he looked up and realized a large cherry blossom tree. He looked closer, and discovered several areas on the leaves were eaten by insects. He was impressed by the random patterns nature made... The name of the temple was Shiroko Kannon-ji, located in Ise region (current Suzuka City area in Mie prefecture), and this small incident in the courtyard took place more than 1300 years ago. There are various theories to the origin of Japanese stenciling, and the exact details are unknown, yet I tend to like this story. Great discovery can occur from something as simple as taking a walk in the garden! Incidentally, about four stencil shops already existed in the Enreki time (782-806) according to the documents kept in the same temple. 1
Japa- nese Kimo- no pat- terns can sig- nify the kimono’s rank in formality by how wide spread or pervasive the pattern is as well as the kimono color. Three distinct categories of Japanese kimono which define degrees of formality are, Komon, Tsukesage, and Homongi. The Komon by virtue of the wide spread stenciled or painted repeat patterns which cover the entire kimono is at the lowest most informal level of formality. Komon dyeing, which has the meaning of "small-figured designs," has a tradition of about 400 years. It started as a method of transferring the family crest to the "Kamishimo," the ceremonial attire of the warrior class. During the Edo Period, Komon dyeing gradually spread among the people in general. This Komon dyeing is a traditional technique of high quality that makes use of stencils cut in intricate patterns.
The Tsu- kes- age is next in rank to the Hom- ongi kimo- no. The tsukesage kimono can be worn by both married and single women to both formal and informal gatherings. For formal occasions, a crest should be applied to the back seam at the top. Tsukesage kimono have designs dyed from the hemline in the front and back which travel to the top of the shoulders. Designs on the sleeves also travel upward. The Homongi pattern because of its asymmetrical patterning which continues without a break across the side seams to the back hem is the highest level of formality Homongi kimono are made from bolts of silk, which are sewn up into the finished length, then hand painted, taken apart, dyed, and then resewed. 2
just as shadows and reflec- tions hadn't occurred to japanese artists, colorful prints hadn't, apparently, occurred to western designers. each had a long history in their own cultures; even perspective went back to the renaissance. japanese prints were collected in books and offered for use as kimono fabric, and also colored paper (sometimes for origami), screens, and more. in each culture, what they hadn't done before was so embraced as to be ubiquitous, emphatic, and each gained meaning by what they came to signify in their new societies.
Labels: aesthetic movement, annie french, charles rennie mackintosh, Chikanobu Toyohara, fashion, francisco javier gose, galle, geza farago, kikugawa eizan, Kunichika Toyohara, pattern, utagawa yoshikazu