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Kosode

Kosode (小袖) were the forerunner of the modern kimono. In the Heian era the main garment of court nobles was the ōsode, a garment with ō(large)-sode(sleeve) openings (i.e. junihitoe). Ko(small)-sode(sleeve) garments with a small wrist opening were first used as undergarments under ōsode, then later became an outer garment for the nobility. [1] However, working class people had been wearing kosode as an outer garment since the 12th century.[2]

The rise of the kosode as an outer garment among the upper classes was intimately linked to the shift in power from the imperial court to the samurai class and was completed with the establishment of the bafuku (shogunate).[3] While court style robes (ōsode) were preserved for ceremonial use, kosode became everyday wear. Kosode gave way to their successor, kimono in the mid 19th century with the Meiji Restoration.[4] As always, art and fashion reflect their times. The style of the kosode is intimately related to the political, economic, and social upheavals in Japan.



Difference Between Kosode and Kimono

Comparing 小袖 kosode (left) and 着物 kimono (right)

Early kosode were much wider in the body and narrower in sleeve width than modern kimono. In the Momoyama Period (late 16th century) the standard width of a bolt of cloth was 45 cm; modern kimono bolts are 36 cm wide.[5] The difference in the ratio of the body to sleeve creates the looser fit characteristic of kosode. Additionally kosode were worn without a ohashori, a fold at the waist, so they tend to be shorter than modern kimono. Early obi were very simple and tied in the front.

Muramachi Period (1392-1573)

In the Muramachi period, kosode designs still conformed to Heian era aesthetics. Each kosode was decorated with a motif appropriate for one of the four seasons.[6]

The move from ōsode to kosode necessitated changes in the methods of textile manufacture. Junihitoe relied on the layering of contrasting colors, so weaving was the preferred method of decoration. The rise of kosode meant a shift away from weaving and towards dyeing and embroidery.[7]

Momoyama Period (1573-1615)

Beginning in late Muramachi and continuing through the Momoyama Period kosode came to have motifs of all four seasons instead of only one. The focus of the design emphasized the back of the garment where the design could be appreciated uninterupted. [8]

During the Momoyama Period three techniques were used to decorate kosode: tsugihana (a stitch resist dyeing technique), embroidery, and nuihaku (the application of silver and gold foil).[9] Toward the end of the Momoyama period, a Kyoto weaver named Tawaraya invented a new kind of brocade to be used in Noh costuming- karaori (a heavy woven twill fabric with repeating motifs).[10]

Wool fabrics suitable for making garments were introduced to Japan circa 1600 by Dutch and Portuguese traders.[11] While silk had become accessible in some form to all social classes, wool during this period was imported and used sparingly.[12] Few if any kosode were made of wool- it was more often used in smaller garments such as jinbaori.[13]


Tenshō Era (1573-1592)

In the Momoyama Period a new dyeing technique known as tsugihana emerged. By using nuishime, stitch resist dyeing, white negative space patterns could be created on a dyed background. Further technological developments during the Tenshō Era allowed for multicolored designs to be worked on a white background.[14] After dyeing, kosode were further embellished with embroidery. During this period watashi nui, long floating stitches made with untwisted silk floss, were used. Finally, gold or silver foil was applied (nuihaku) to fill in between the embroidered stitches. All these techniques were worked on nerinuki, plain weave silk.[15]

Motifs were highly stylized. Each motif representing a season was restricted to a different highly defined zone. These zones could be four quadrants, shoulder and hem (kata suso), alternating bands (dangawari), or vertical right and left halves of the body (片身替 katamigawari).[16]

Popular motifs of the period were:

Spring: Ume (now considered a winter motif), sakura, horsetail, dandelion, and sumire

Summer: Fuji, ayame

Autumn: Momiji, kiku, hagi, susuki

Winter: Yukitake, reeds, yanagi

As well as geometric motifs such as kikkō.

Keichō Era (1596-1614)

The main technological advance of the Keichō era was the importation of new silk weaving methods from China. These new methods allowed the production of saya, twill weave, and rinzu, figured satin silk. These new kinds of silk had much more drape than nerinuki and led to changes in the arrangement of motifs.[17]

Keichō-style kosode abandoned the strict design zones of the earlier period and mixed different seasonal motifs together.[18] The most striking characteristic of Keichō-style kosode was the shift toward a more restrained background palette. This was effected by the invention of somewake, a tie dyeing technique that grew out of and replaced tsugihana and nuihaku.

In somewake, the background is first dyed in black, white, and red abstract shapes. These are the only colors used in the background. These areas were then decorated with small scale embroidered flowers and small metal foil shapes.[19] This style was sometimes called jinashi (no ground design) and was popularized by the women of Kyoto's pleasure quarters. When the pleasure quarters relocated in 1641 from central to western Kyoto, the style fell out of fashion.

Edo Period (1615-1868)

Kanbun Era (1661-1673)

Around the mid 17th century the abstract black, white, and red shapes of somewake began to become shaped like mountains and clouds. Eventually, these shapes included tabane noshi, nami, matsu, kiku, and sensu. By the Kanbun era, the motifs used expanded from nature motifs to man-made, literary, and allegorical motifs. These motifs cascaded diagonally from one shoulder to the hem.[20]

The major change in decorative techniques was the use of kanoko (fawn spot) shibori, what most people think of today as shibori.[21]

Genroku Era (1688-1704)

In 1683, a ban on kinsha and sō-kanoko (full shibori) was issued in an attempt to check the increasingly luxurious kosode worn by the merchant class.[22] The actual effect of this decree was to vault yūzen to prominence.Yūzen paste techniques had been known since the Muramachi period, but the Genroku era was to see their true flowering.

Initially a popular yūzen design was round medallions filled with flowers from different seasons. By 1692 this gave way to compositions that were more like paintings. Yūzen reached the height of its popularity around 1714.[23]

Meiwa Era (1764-1772)

In the second half of the 18th century, yūzen's popularity declined in favor of shiroagari (white-reserved designs) and shiroage nuiiri (shiroagari with embroidery). Shiroagari utilized paste resist techniques to create small white motifs on a dark monochromatic background. Popular background colors were dark blue, indigo, and forest green.[24] This reflected cultural shift from Kyoto to Edo, the seat of the shogunate, as the setter of fashion trends. With this change the concepts of iki and restraint became more valued.

By this period the obi had increased in width to about 20 centimeters, forcing the focus of kosode design to shift from the back to the front. The decorated areas were known as shimabara tsuma, edozuma, suso moyō, ura moyō, and han moyō. [25]

Bunka Era (1804-1818)

During this period the obi increased to an average width of 30 centimeters.[26] Kosode designs came to focus more on the hem of the garment so as not to interfere with the wider obi.

Bunsei Era (1818-1830)

By the end of the Edo period kosode came to resemble the modern kimono. As the average width of a bolt of cloth decreased, the ratio of the width of the sleeve to body became closer to modern standards. This also meant the fit became closer in the body. After the beginning of the Meiji Period, these garments are no longer called kosode, but instead identified as kimono.

References

  1. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.10
  2. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.16
  3. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.17
  4. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.21
  5. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.11
  6. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.23
  7. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.22
  8. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.21
  9. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.23
  10. Momoyama, Japanese Art in the Age of Grandeur: Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Organized in Collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston. 1975. p.102
  11. Momoyama, Japanese Art in the Age of Grandeur: Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Organized in Collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston. 1975. p.96
  12. Momoyama, Japanese Art in the Age of Grandeur: Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Organized in Collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston. 1975. p.98
  13. Momoyama, Japanese Art in the Age of Grandeur: Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Organized in Collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston. 1975. p.96
  14. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.22
  15. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.24
  16. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.23
  17. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.24
  18. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.23
  19. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.23
  20. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.25
  21. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.27
  22. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.27
  23. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.29
  24. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.30
  25. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.31
  26. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.32

More Examples

  1. Kyoto National Museum Textile Masterworks English page showing a few of their most important textiles, including dobuku owned by Hideyoshi
  2. Marubeni Company Art Collection English page, collection of kosode and Noh robes
  3. Tokyo National Museum Important Cultural Property Textiles English page, some items on loan from the Kyoto National Museum
  4. Joshibi University of Art and Design Kosode Collection English page
  5. Costume Museum of Kyoto English page, life sized dolls dressed in the Kamakura, Azuchi, and Momoyama Period costumes