Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wisteria, Fuji

Of all the flowers in the kimono year, perhaps Fuji is my favorite. Some people prefer large flowers, some small, but I think I like dangly flowers and plants that move with the wind. Once the cherry blossom snow is on the ground, one moves into fuji mood. Fuji is the name of a shade of light purple, a colour combination in the Heian period, and of course, a design that is traditional and still popular on spring kimono.

Whenever the colours of a robe do not match the seasons, the flowers of spring and the autumn tints, whenever they are somehow vague and muddy, then the whole effort is as futile as the dew. So it is with women...we are all pursuing the ideal and failing to find it.

Quote originally from the Tale of Genji, quoted in Lisa Dalby's "Kimono" 1993, Yale. Dalby also records kimono layering systems dating from the times of the Grand Empress Tashi, born in 1140. She was from the Fujiwara clan, (which means wisteria fields). The document "Colours for a court lady's Dress" records includes what are thought to be her own comments in the margins. The combination of fuji was a deep purple lined, deep purple robe, over layered by a medium purple, medium purple lined robe, then a lavender robe also lined in lavender, then a white layer with dark purple lining, and a white layer with a lavender lining. A raw silk chemise in scarlet or white. It was a textile symphony in purples! Of course, to be really stylish one would wear it slightly before the blooms are out, and certainly not still be wearing it when the petals are showering down to the floor. I found some fuji in my kimono collection. They are a variety of objects. The hair decoration, probably part of a maiko or a theatrical costume, an obi age tied in a fuji musubi knot, a meisen kimono, an obi edged in fuji and the logo on a kimono wrapped. Enjoy the blossoms while they last!

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