March 9, 2012
A yukata is an unlined, cotton kimono that is used on casual occasions. In old Japan they were worn to go to the sento or bath house as well as for evening strolls during the hot summers, when visiting an onsen or hot spring, or, say, to gather together during festival times to watch fireworks. Yukata are made of light weight cotton, are usually blue and white, and they often are imprinted with “cooling” images like butterflies, streams, gently falling leaves and the like.These two are shibori dyed. The one shown here, above and below, is a subtle and complex pattern of stacked diamonds. It seems that the paler, more “spider web” diamonds were tied and then bound with string while the darker diamonds were tied and not bound. Binding and not binding give two different effects which was used to great artistic advantage here.
And shown below is the clamp dyed or itajime shibori where cloth is folded, clamped tight, and then the edges are dyed. The result is this kaleidoscopic image, which in fact is the tortoiseshell motif, one that conveys wishes for a long life.In the case of each of the two yukata shown here, the cotton is lightweight and rather gauzy–good for keeping one cool in the hot summers or for absorbing sweat or water should you be visiting an onsen.Each dates to the first half of the 20th century, more or less. I’ll be offering the beautiful itajime shibori yukata on the webshop soon.