The custom of wearing concealed beauty
It can be said that one of the characteristics of Japanese antiques and craftworks is the particularity about little things and the refined passion towards concealed beauty. The appreciation of these two points enables us to step forward into the deep sea of Japanese culture.
In this column, we would like to introduce the 'gaku-ura' (the picture on the inner lining of kimonos), which we believe is the ultimate form of Japanese obsession towards concealed beauty.
We hope our gaku-ura collectors, people who heard this term for the first time or readers who have not been interested in kimono before will find the contents interesting and helpful for your next shopping at chuu.com.
The prohibition on sumptuous clothes and the emergence of Edo dandies
The relatively peaceful Edo period (1600-1868) under the reign of Tokugawa shogunate gave rise to a unique merchant culture centered around large cities. The well off merchants began to spend money and time on leisure and cultural pursuit, even on their everyday clothes and tools. As a natural consequence, expensive sumptuous clothes prevailed.
However, the Tokugawa shogunate feared this rising merchant power and issued an edict that prohibited the wearing of rich clothes several times during the Edo period. These edicts were very detailed. For example, highly embroidered or entirely tie-dyed kimonos were banned, and later the restriction went on to even gorgeous festival dolls and elaborate hair accessories.
It is not hard to imagine that the craftsmen who made these pieces lost a great deal, but the regulations did work in a good way in a sense that it stimulated everybody's fashion consciousness. People's interest in outwards beauty shifted to the concealed aspects, beautifying areas that could not be seen from the outside. 2