Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A lucky find!

There are many little junk shops and shops which recycle things which are no longer of use in people's homes. Often they sell women's clothes, various miscellaneous dishes and odd ornaments or antiques. There is one near my house which opened up a couple of years ago. It is rather fun to browse through these bits of discarded materiality which must have been cluttering up someone's house. Sometimes I am looking for something practical, like a large salad bowl, which is an ongoing project, but other times I am just sort of cruising, and waiting for a meeting with something inspiring.
I have been hoping to find some embroidered collars for kimono underwear, for some time. New ones with substantial embroidery, (which is machine done), start from about 6,000 yen, which is an investment. I might find a nice kimono for the same money. So I never have managed to find many good ones. In Ginza's antique mall, they have old ones, hand embroidered from the taisho or showa periods, which cost as much, or more, than the new ones. In the taisho period they were a particularly important accessory, and people lined up outside the department stores to buy the new, most fashionable collars. Indeed, they invested more in the collar than in the kimono.
The store near my house has a few uninspiring kimono, and one or two nice accessories, all in a big pile at the back of the shop. I do not know whether the owner is interested in kimono or not, (possibly not), but in this pile I saw a traditional nagajuuban, (petticoat) dyed in momi (safflower), which had tie dyed circles on it, and an attractive woven ground. I already have several of these underwears, so I was not intending to buy it, until I noticed the collar on it. It was a beautiful piece of embroidery, hand done, with celebratory motifs on it. I asked how much she wanted for it, and I was happy to buy it for 1,500 yen. She was selling the underwear, but I was buying the collar. I thought I would possibly sell on the underwear itself. Then, when I got home, I found something else lovely about this underwear. The sleeves are lined with red and white stencilled momi, which was popular from the meiji period. Probably this had been another underwear, which had fallen apart and was used in the construction of this one. All in all it turned out to be very interesting for all the different techniques employed in its construction, and in the history that probably goes with it. Not sure if I will really want to part with this one........

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