Only once-in-a-lifetime would it be possible to find a Kimono as extraordinary as this one. This is a rare and unique example of a “Nagajuban” or Under-Kimono. The Silk has been handwoven, hand painted, and signed in Pure Gold. The Nagajuban is an extraordinary illustration of how much artistic effort wealthy and noble individuals in Japanese society expected from their daily wear. A Kimono mirrors the historical development of the country, and reflects the very elegance and style of its culture. The traditional “T” shape is instantly recognizable and represents a unique contribution to clothing construction. It became a means of expression for centuries of Japanese artists and artisans, becoming as much an original work of fine art as a practical garment.
The brilliant coloring of this Kimono, ranging from a light blue to a very dark blue, verging on purple, reflects the hand of a master dyer. Onto this gorgeous surface a rich Ukiyo-e scene has been hand painted and signed. Ukiyo-e are also referred to as pictures of the “Floating World,” a title that reveals the then contemporary world of the 17th through the 19th centuries in a fashionable and hedonistic manner. This was a period of time when Japan enjoyed peace and prosperity and was closed to the outside world. Thus, it was a time when Japan’s most famous artists, publishers, engravers and printers became preoccupied with the fashionable and hedonistic: the kabuki actors and the theatre, courtesans and their life in the licensed pleasure quarters.
This is a fabulous example of the “Tsutsugaki” or Rice Paste Resist technique that required that each color be applied separately, while all the others were painted out in the rice paste. Each time a new color was added, the rice paste had to be removed by soaking it out over and over again in the local river water. This process was particularly tedious and time consuming. The combination of artistic efforts that were required to produce this exceptional Kimono took enormous time and labor.
It is obvious that this garment belonged to an individual 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 an Artwork as magnificent as this, from the hand weaving, to the hand dying and painting, was indeed blessed with abundance.
The green collar, showing in the photo, is actually a lining that has been basted on to the collar of the Kimono in order to protect it. Once removed, the upper portion of the Kimono is the color of the blue that exists on the top of the garment.