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A Very Fine 19th Century Child’s Omi Jofu Kimono with an Elaborate Semamori Stitched on the Back

Written on March 25, 2009

Omi jofu, or the exceptionally fine hemp or ramie cloth from Omi in Shiga Prefecture in Japan, is one of the most refined of Japan’s bast fiber cloth.  Along with the fine-as-silk Miyako jofu from Okinawa and Echigo jofu of Niigata Prefecture, Omi jofu ranks high in the top tier of Japanese traditional bast fiber weaving.

That said, the child who once owned this kimono must have been quite a fashion plate, certainly this was a child from a well-to-do family.   Note the intricate kasuri or ikat pattern that shows koi, bamboo leaves and swirling water; this pattern is repeated in a kind of mirror-image.  The swirling forms of the design smack of Art Nourveau design and this influence may or may not have been intentional.

Note the wonderful, chartreuse green silk sleeve lining and the marvelous semamori or semori protective stitch that runs up the back of the garment, terminating is a cluster of tasseled knots.  Semori is stitched with intention: it is meant to protect the wearer, so it carries with it a kind of magical power.

Notice the pieced cloth on the inside of the collar: this is a fragment of katazome dyed silk chuugata or middle figure cloth which was popular among those who could afford it in the 19th century.

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  1. Comment by Anaka Narayanan:

    You have great taste in textiles! Love the intricate ikat too. I never cease to be blown away when I see intricate ikat- calls for so much precision and painstaking work. One day when I have a larger store I’d love to have a small loom in the store so I can explain how ikat is done (most people tend to think it’s a print).

    March 27, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  2. Comment by Melly:

    Wow! That’s an awesome kimono.

    March 27, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  3. Comment by Elizabeth:

    Just found this blog through a post of spirit cloth. There are so many gorgeous things to see that I need to come back a lot of times to take in all this beauty. Thank you so much for sharing.

    March 28, 2009 @ 3:16 pm