Summer kimono / the color of blue sky... / morning pilgrimage (Kobayashi Issa, 1822) -- Few items evoke Japan in the Western imagination more than a kimono. Although literally translated as "what is worn" the kimono is far more than a utilitarian garment. Replete in symbolism in cut, color, and ornament, the finest kimono are unique works of art. -- The Meiji era (1868-1912) produced the elegant kimonos that are most familiar today. The overthrow of the Shogunate and the return of the Emperor brought the end of sumptuary restrictions and raised the status of the merchant class. These factors combined to bring a surge in the demand for and production of luxurious, custom-made kimonos. -- This period also marks Japan's first prolonged contact with the West. The spread of Western technology, mores, and customs across Japan resulted in an increased national pride in certain quarters. This manifested itself in the conspicuous display of the very Eastern kimono and a rejection of Western-style dress. -- The flow of cultural influence worked two ways. Photographic books created specifically for foreign consumption and the exportation of Japanese goods, particularly textiles--and kimono--fueled the fascination with all things Japanese, leading to the widespread Japanisme that flourished in both the fine and decorative arts. -- All of the works shown are from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library.
CAI copy included in Library exhibition titled "Summer Kimono ..." held June 19 - September 8, 2008