A bridal costume from the Södo Kimono Academy
Traditional Japanese art has several peculiar forms non-existent in the western hemisphere or seven in other countries of the Far East, like chado, the tea ceremony, and ikebana, flower arrangement. The art and culture of the kimono, one of the most advanced in Japanese textile arts, belongs to those special fields.
The Japanese collection of the Francis Hopp Musem of Eastern Artistic Arts numbers about seven thousand items but. strange to tell, it has contained not a singular kimono up to now.
It is therefore with great pleasure and sincere gratitude that we report the acquisition of a complete artistic- bridal costume through an exchange of national costumes with the Södo Kimono Academy in Tokyo. Kanda (Fig. 1).
This wedding costume consists of the following chief parts:
1) Long undergarment (nagajuban) in white silk damask. The woven decoration shows intertwined zigzag patterns and two kind of flower ornaments.
2) Pure white long kimono (kakeshita). The ornamental design woven in damask technique consist of facing pairs of cranes placed in lozenges.
3) Long silver broncade obi. The decoration
– consisting of traditional elements like waves and geometric motifs in cloud form frames, small double drums (tsuzumi) and flowers – is woven in silver brocade technique in the white silk (Fig. 2).
4) The most attractive part of the costume is the long embroidered outer robe, the uchikake. The heavy corded silk is gorgeously decorated: the hundred cranes motif, symbolizing the desire for long life is embroidered on it in three shades of gold with some details in red and black. The flying cranes on the front and back of the robe forrn groups and display rhythmic movement (Fig. 3).
The outfit of the wedding costume is completed by the following accessories: obijime (sash band), silk purse, silk case for a dagger, a folding fan, a pair of traditional white split-toe tabi and zori foot wear.
The whole set of the bridal costume, design-ed and fashioned by the Södo Kimono Academy, bears witness to the best traditions of the Japanese kimono and represents a modern adaptation of it.
The Södo Academy tries to revive the art of the kimono in order to counterbalance the strain and other negative effects of the modern way of life. It takes the doubly beneficial effect of the colourful artistic kimono on the bearer and on the surrounding persons as its starting point and builds up an original philosophy on this principle.
- A BRIDAL COSTUME FROM THE SÖDO KIMONO ACADEMY, TOKYO, 1974
2. DETAIL OF THE SILVER BROCADE OBI
3. DETAIL OF EMBROIDERED DECORATION OF THE OUTER ROBE, UCHIKAKE
Similarly to other Japanese arts and social activities, the way of the kimono can he classed into four stages: gi, meaning the technical details, jutsu, the usual rules, e.g. the tying of the obi; ho, the social custom and do, the spiritual qualities of it.
The name of Södo implies the Chinese-Japanese characters for dress and way, and the Södo way of the kimono includes all the four aspects mentioned; its artistic es-sen e e represents already spiritual and social qualities.
The aim of the Södo Academy – as Mr Norio Yamanaka, president of the Academy expresses it – is to preserve and revive the kimono culture and to build human relations on the base of love and courtesy in Japan and abroad. The philosophy of Södo tries to promote the harmonic and peaceful development of the whole society by the beauty of the kimono.
The bridal costume sent by the Södo Academy has been put on show on the permanent new Japanese exhibition of the Hopp Museum which introduces the traditional branches of Japanese fine and applied arts. The costume gives a good idea of the kimono culture and of Japanese textile arts and it has found great success among the visitors. Its artistic appearance gives constant joy to everyone.
We express our deep thanks to the kind officials of the Södo Kimono Academy who helped to organize this exchange.