Japanese Textile Design

Japan, C. 1935
A. Kitagawa
15 x 30 in (38 x 76 cm)
These beautiful prints are salesman's samples of kimono cloth designs. Salespeople would bring these pieces to kimono makers in order to showcase the different patterns available.

With its origins as the Chinese garment hanfu, the style of the Japanese kimono evolved over time to reflect cultural changes through the nation’s history. The kimono is considered a form of high art in the Japanese tradition. The artisans who weave the cloth, design and decorate the fabric, and assemble the final garment are all of the highest caliber.

Traditional kimono cloth patterns themselves hold all kinds of significance. Colors, motifs, and other symbolic images come together on each kimono to tell the story of its wearer. Bright, ornamental designs are traditionally worn by young, unmarried women and subtler fabrics are reserved for married women. References to important Japanese myths weave the essence of the tale into the garment while also conveying the intellect of its wearer. People are rarely the subject of these prints and nature itself--animals, plants, elements--takes command.

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