Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

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Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:28 pm

yumehime

Sorry, but this has been bothering me for years. Everyone I talk to as well as any website I read will gladly tell me that all the ladies of pre-Edo japan were wearing 6-8 lyaers of silk robes in bright colors that trail on the ground for a few feet. And there are definitly paintings to back this up for a few centuies befor Edo, but to me something is missing from the overal picture of the life of a woman in this time.

Silk+dew/snow/rain= a wicking efect that will draw any dirt mixed with the mosture up the hem of every layer near or on the ground. This means every time a woman walks outside her home she is dirtying her clothing with evey step. I see the same thing happen to my khaki pants (which are only near the ground, not trailing on it) when I go out after percipitation, but in my case it never loses the dinge, but no paintings or historical recreations show this.

I am lead to believe that Japan knew something about cleaning silk that I don't, so have any of you found out what that is so if we muss a good silk kimono we know what to do? Otherwise the only other way I can see keeping those layers bright would look something like when the geisha tuck up the hem of the padded kimono when traveling between preformances, but with so many, what would be strong enough to put up with that weight?

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:29 pm

SuzumeOdori

From my understanding, the multiple layers were only worn by noblewomen, who stayed in carefully cleaned homes and even had special raised and swept walkways between buildings so they could keep their clothes clean. Your average person got a lot dirtier.

I might be remembering this wrong, but I want to say that in the Tale of Genji there's even a scene where a character traps two noblewomen by smearing mud all over one of these walkways, so the two are actually trapped outside when it starts to rain because they can't walk through the mud and can't go back the way they came (the person locked the door behind them). So they had to stand in the rain, catching a cold, until a guard(?) found them.

Anyway, that's my guess, that it was just a noblewoman thing. :) Sort of like high heels in Manhattan... Unless you're a "noblewoman"(can always afford taxis and never walk anywhere), you can't really wear high heels without really hurting yourself or beating the shoes up or both.

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:29 pm

yumehime

Too bad anyone but a noble wasn't generaly important enough to paint. I would love to know what the other women wore who had to work for a living or travel regularly, as repacing fabirc befor machine weaving and spining was even more costly than replacing it now, and I would hate to have to try and replace all my clothing even second hand.

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:29 pm

SuperGrouper

I've read that in the days when regular kimono (not junihitoe!) were worn trailing INSIDE, they were tied up when walking outside. I've seen ink prints of this- they tied a sort of obi or koshi-himo under their waist to make an ohashori, but they didn't wear an obi above this like we do.

Sorry I don't have an image for this, but I have seen it before. ^^;

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:30 pm

yumehime

It's ok, what you say makes sense. After all, that tuck at the waist seemed kind of random till you said that, an now I can kind of see where the Heian style would start to evolve into what we see now. I remember reading that Edo was a more simplistic period fasion wise, so maybe that meant that the royals were dressing closer to the style of commoners than they had in earlier eras.

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:30 pm

SuzumeOdori

Yeah, it is hard to find images of the peasant class, but I believe they were mostly in dull, one-layer garments most of the time.

The trend toward simpler fashion was a repeating theme in Japanese society, from what I remember, having more to do with the ups and downs of the government.

For example, when the military began to rise to power toward the end of the Heian era into the Muromachi, good military wives and daughters ended up eventually wearing just white kimono and red hakama, which had previously been more or less underwear, with a single fancy over-kimono tied at the waist. The decadence of the earlier fashion was rejected as morally corrupt.

Later, with the rise of the merchant class, I've read that the ruling samurai class got annoyed at being sartorially shown up by their "inferiors" (who happened to have more money than them at times), and put a stop to the beautiful kimono of the Genroku period by making sumptuary laws restricting the types and makes those of different social stations could wear.

That's all from memory, though: don't quote me! :oops:

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:31 pm

yumehime

Udnerware? All this time I've been looking at anime the "preistess" is basicaly wearing Heian undies? Inuyasha just got a whole lot funnier. Though the simplicity as a rejection of corupt goverment sounds kind of like the French getting rid of corsettes after the revelution and using the Spanish dress style.

As to military class needing to make laws to keep from being out dressed by the merchents, it would make sense that armour and wepon upkeep would take a good bit of the budget up, leaving a woman's new clothing as a luxurie that gets ignored during periods of heavier combat, where the merchents didn't need to make the same kind of investment. And we all know that ruling classes never like to be out dressed. I think Europe had similar laws to keep their nobility looking fancy around the same time.

Funny how war, goverment, and religion have such an impact on fashion.

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:31 pm

SuzumeOdori

lol Yep!

And France is a good comparison! I for one wish men still dressed as beautifully as in the French court, but that could just be me...

If you're curious, here's a quick snapshot of before and after:

Heian (See the innermost white kimono up top at the collar? That's the white "kosode" that would grow into today's kimono, and the dark shape inside at the bottom is the red hakama worn under the other robe color combinations.)
http://web.mit.edu/jpnet/kimono/history-heian1.html

Muromachi (Or "Heian Lite")
http://web.mit.edu/jpnet/kimono/history-muromachi.html

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:31 pm

yumehime

Thanks so much for the links. I definitly think the less is more concept would be more my speed if I did a period costume for the Heian era. Till now I had never even seen that style. Just to make sure I get it, in the second link, has she pulled her arms out of the sleves of her kimono and let the sash hold it up sort of like a wrap skirt?

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:32 pm

Tahanala

Yes. You might be interested in Liza Dalby's "Kimono: Fashioning Culture" book.

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Re: Heian Hygiene? or Why isn't Her Hem Grey-Brown?

Post by IG Team » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:33 pm

SuperGrouper

Searhing for "jidai matsuri" at Flickr always brings up wonderful things- here are some reenactments from the Festival of Ages showing early styles of tying up the kimono when traveling. In the one on the far left, especially, you can actually see an early type of obi hanging down beneath her ohashori/waist fold.

Click the thumbnails to view the Flickr pages with larger sizes.

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