This is a Nagoya Obi created for a specific purpose: the designer of this Obi used a handwoven, gorgeous, shiny, black satin Silk Fukuro Obi to create a tribute for his client to wear at a ceremony honoring her revered ancestor. A Nagoya Obi is more of a structural nomenclature than a definition of a type of Obi from Japan’s past. Originally, there were Maru Obi, Fukuro Obi and Han Haba Obi. The most formal and expensive was the Maru Obi, wherein there was but one seam down the length of one side; the Fukuro Obi which had two seams with differing fabric on the back from the front; while the Han Haba was traditionally a man’s narrow obi. The Nagoya Obi resulted from the desire on the part of women to have an obi that was easier to tie than the traditional Maru or Fukuro Obi. Prior to the twentieth century, clever women began to double over the wider portion of the obi to create a new structure that was one-third traditional width and two-thirds half the width. This became the Nagoya Obi which began to be produced commercially during the Taisho Era (1912-1926), just prior to the 1920s.
This fascinating Obi represents one of the earlier Nagoya Obi, having been created from a Fukuro Obi, which incorporated one full length of heavy, handwoven, black satin, unpatterned silk, and one length that displays the extraordinary embroidery. The lustrous silk threads in shades of beige, gold and silver further enhance the symbolism and gravity of the occasion. In Japan, one’s clothing represented the reason behind the event as well as the individual’s wealth, societal position, the season and their culture. The hand embroidered Ikebana arrangement is quite traditional, as well as symbolic. The flowers are just explicit enough to denote their intent, but not so stylized that the species can be easily identified.
The handwork and attention to detail of this marvelous Obi are evident in its fine weaving and exquisite embroidery. All the artistic skills applied to the creation of this Obi, required tremendous talent and skill. It would have been worn only once and was a fitting homage for one’s honored ancestor.