The exhibition entitled Painting the Floating World – Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection, which I blogged about here is ending on 27 January.
According to the website of the Art Institute of Chicago the courtesans, geisha, and actors depicted in the ukiyo-e paintings of the 17th -19th centuries were the beautiful people of Edo-period Japan. “The world they moved in, the “floating world” (ukiyo), was all about glamour, sophistication, and style. The fashions they wore reflected not only class and occupation but also trends and individual taste, all of which were focused on the attempt to create an ideal picture of beauty.
Though the overall look of each individual bijin (beauty) was created by the combination of cosmetics, clothing, and hairstyle, this video focuses on the complicated process and elaborate result of hairstyling. Filmed in a shrine in near Kyoto, the 90-year-old Minami Tomiko, one of the few living masters of the art, recreates three intricate hairstyles”. These are the Kamome tabo or seagull’s tail, the Tōrōbin or lantern locks, and the Yoko hyōgo or butterfly.
It’s amazing to see just how much work went into creating these elaborate styles, and this really brought the world in which these women moved to life.
Click here to view the video.
Exhibition dates: 22 February – 22 May 2017
Pieces from the collection of the famous Matsuzakaya fashion house are currently being exhibited for the first time outside of Japan, at the Musée Guimet in Paris. When shown together, they offer an opportunity to witness the evolution of Japanese fashion from the Edo period (1603–1868) up to the present day. The exhibition follows the development of the kimono and its accompanying accessories, in order to illustrate the position of women and the way in which women’s bodies are viewed in Japanese society, but also the ways in which these have been reinterpreted in contemporary Japanese and French fashion.
Originally worn as underclothing before being adopted by samurai and courtiers, and eventually becoming everyday wear for all social classes, the kimono, known as ‘kosode’ in the nineteenth century, is the signature item of Japanese dress. It wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that kimonos were worn as indoor dress by elegant women in France, at a time when a taste for ‘japonism’ was in vogue with fashion designers such as Paul Poiret (1879–1944) or Madeleine Vionnet (1876–1975), whose diaphonous creations with flowing sleeves resemble the loose construction of kimonos.
For more information, visit the website of the Musée Guimet, Paris.
Exhibition dates: 14 June – 13 December 2015
The German Textile Museum in Krefeld is unique in Europe for its collection of Japanese garments from the Edo period, decorated in the style known as ‘komon’. These 18th and 19th century garments, for both men and women, were purchased in the last decade by the city of Krefeld and given by various donors, and some are being shown to the public in this exhibition for the very first time.
The garments are characterised by small, very fine patterns, created using stencils (katagami) and rice-paste resist dyeing. The katagami templates consist of layers of mulberry paper. These very small, complex patterns are known as komon, and these so-called Edo komon patterns are considered the artistic peak of this stencil-dyeing technique in Japan. The small scale, with the entire surface of the textile being covered in tiny motifs, means that the tiny dots and other shapes – such as ovals and squares – can only be perceived by the human eye upon close inspection. The German Textile Museum shows a wide selection of different pattern variations in the exhibition.
Komon patterns were formerly reserved as decorative elements for the Samurai alone. Samurai families had their own pattern, which was not allowed to be used by others. Over time komon patterns began to be found in Japanese theatre, Noh or Kabuki, and in the adornment of precious garments that are still used to this day.
The exhibition also presents historic Noh robes and other Japanese textiles from the museum’s own collection as well as a suit of Samurai armour and woodblock prints on loan from the Krefeld art museum. Other loans – photographs from the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim and ceramics, Noh masks and a folding screen from private collections – round off this exhibition of textiles from the Edo period beautifully.
For more information, visit the website of the Deutsches Textilmuseum, Krefeld, Germany.