This is a unique example of a Japanese man’s “Nagajuban” or Under-Kimono. The Nagajuban itself is a remarkable illustration of how much artistic effort the wealthy and noble individuals in old Japan expected from their daily wear, for this garment was not intended for anyone in society to admire; but, instead was solely intended for the pleasure of the individual in his own home…an enormous expense lavished on oneself.
The finely patterned background Silk provides an elaborate, although muted, context for the bold design featuring several insets of a rather idyllic version of a village life that provides the advantages of both water and community benefits. Both enclosures are surrounded by larger characteristic symbols of the daily activities that existed within the area. The noble’s palanquin, for example, traversing the village is repeated in larger detail in the background; while the numerous signposts, “Kanban,” reflect the various shops, and the sails from the dock scene depict the family crests or “Mom” of the local upper-class families.
All Kimono or Nagajuban are created from several panels of silk, always the same width and length, which have been prepared in advance by the weaver, dyer and artist. What is unusual in this Nagajuban is that the sleeve panels have been used to self-line, while the majority of the garment has been lined with a neutrally colored raw silk. The combination of artistic efforts that were required to produce this exceptional Kimono took enormous time, labor and skill. The attention to detail is outstanding.
It is obvious that this garment belonged to a man of high social standing and wealth as a Nagajuban was intended to be worn under another Kimono at home. An individual who could afford to hide such wonderful Artwork was indeed blessed with abundance.