Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kimono Exhibit at the Met

Over the Christmas Holiday, Jim Jack and I traveled to New York City for  a couple of days.  While there, we had the opportunity to go to the Metropolitan Museum for a day.  Jack ditched his parents and went off to do his own thing while Jim and I high-tailed it over to the Asian Arts section for the Kimono exhibit that I had read about in the paper.



Wow.



I have seen a few kimono exhibits in the past twenty years or so but never had I seen so many embroidered kimonos from the Edo period (1615-1868) on display all at the same time.

During the Edo period, Japan remained closed to outside influences by imposing sakoku, a foreign relations policy whereby no person could enter or leave Japan under penalty of death.  That means that the kimonos that are from the Edo period tend to be made from materials and dyes native to Japan.



It was amazing to see so many examples of Japanese embroidery using most of the same motifs and techniques that I am studying today...400 years later!



One was more stunning than the next...



Every carriage on this kimono was different and the colors were pure understated elegance...



I was particularly fond of this uchikake, a robe worn over a kimono...



It's embroidered with boxes containing shells from a shell-matching game...



I suppose its appeal might be the fact that the boxes, all different, are similar in style to the round box which I am currently embroidering. Notice the holding stitches over the orange satin stitches in the box interior...very similar to what I've recently completed on my last post.

The bottom edges of uchikake were stuffed so that the train would flow uninterrupted behind the wearer...



The uchikake below is also likely from a wedding...



Because it shows pairs of folded-paper butterflies, male and female, symbolizing the newly wedded couple.



Lucky for us, the Met has this particular kimono available for viewing in its online collection here so you can see the entire kimono up-close.

The Edo period ended in 1868 with the overthrow of the Tokugawan shogunate ushering in a period of modernization for Japan.  In the Meiji period that followed, Japan's isolationism ended and there began significant cross-fertilization between East and West.

Japonisme, an affinity for all things Japanese, influenced Western art.  See this kimono-inspired robe made for sale to European ladies...


The embroidery on this one was just phenomenal.



While Japonism was taking hold in Europe, likewise Western textiles and methods made their way to Japan.

The exhibit showed many examples of how new fibers and dyes influenced the kimono designs in the late 19th century.  The vibrant purple of this Meiji kimono was made possible with the availability of Western synthetic dyes.

It's shows a single cherry blossom tree with many birds...



and a lovely string of bells that stretch from branch to branch...



It made me wonder what it might sound like to hang a set of bells in the cherry tree out front for when the flocks of Cedar Waxwings return.  I wonder if the tinkling of the bells would scare them away?

There is so much to this exhibit that I can't possibly share it in one post.  Sadly, the exhibit closed last weekend but I did manage to take a lot of photographs.  I set them up in a Flickr album for your viewing pleasure.  You can either manually progress through the album which gives you time to read the placards here...or, if you prefer, you can watch a slideshow beginning here.

You might want to set aside some time to go through it properly.  There are over 200 pictures there.

It took me hours to go through the exhibit.  I was so absorbed that when I finally came out of my trance, I found I had lost track of Jim.

Tomorrow I'll tell you where I found him and what caught his eye...

15 comments:

deb* said...

can't wait to go thru the slide show---waiting for some quiet time! What fabulous work--

D1-D2 said...

When I saw your post I was sad that this would be another exhibit I wouldn't be able to visit. Until I reached the end of your post and saw the links. Thank you so much for taking all these pictures allowing those of us who couldn't visit the exhibit the chance to do so anyways (through a computer) :D

Zdolność-tworzenia said...

Kimona jak dla mnie, to swoiste dzieła sztuki.

crazyQstitcher said...

Thank you Susan for sharing such wonderful photos of the exhibition.
The accompanying written details were very interesting.
How industrious the embroiderers were to create such beautiful designs in fine stitching.

I'm not a bit surprised you'd be enchanted viewing everything.

Lisa Boni said...

Such a wonderfully inspiring exhibit! I can't help but be in awe of all the time it must have taken to create this much exquisite beauty!

Createology said...

How very fortunate for you to visit this amazing exhibit while you are working on your Master Stitchery. I am in awe of such beautiful precise garments.

Marie said...

Thank you VERY much for sharing your photos - what a lovely treat! Those kimono sure are in fantastic condition.

Pamela said...

Great post! Thank you for the wonderful pictures and the information. I live in Japan, but have never seen anything like this. I appreciate your sharing it all.

Rachel said...

I think "Wow" is an understatement - they look fabulous!

Suztats said...

Ooooh, wow!

Catherine said...

These are gorgeous!

coral-seas said...

Thank you for this post, Susan. Each kimono is beautiful. I especially like the black uchikake. I look forward to looking at the other pictures in Flickr. Thanks also for the information, I'm always please to learn something new about Japanese Embroidery. I have wind chimes in the tree where I hang the bird feeders. The birds take no notice of them so I don't think tinkling bells would scare your Cedar Waxwings.

Gerry Krueger said...

This was so gorgeous...It's hard to believe human hands can create something so divine... I'm so glad you found Jim!!

Judy S. said...

Awesome photos! You are so lucky to live close enough to NYC to be able to see all these wonderful exhibits!

H Gotts said...

Gorgeous gorgeous! Something for me to strive for... Thanks for sharing!!

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