Outline of Exhibition

Fabrics of History: Textiles Handed Down Through Japanese and Korean History
Period Oct 15 (Wed) - Nov 30 (Sun), 2008
*First half: Oct 15 (Wed) - Nov 3 (Mon)
*Second half: Nov 6 (Thu) - Nov 30 (Sun)
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries,
National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions Adults: ¥830 (¥560)
Senior high school & college students: ¥450 (¥250)
* Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more
* Admission to permanent collection included
* Free admission for elementary & junior high school students
* Free admission for senior high school students every Saturday
Hours 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (no entrance after 4:00 p.m.)
Closed Oct 20 (Mon), 27 (Mon), Nov 4 (Tue), 5 (Wed)*, 10 (Mon), 17 (Mon), and 25 (Tue)
* The exhibition will be closed on Nov 5 (Wed) to change the exhibition. (The permanent collection will remain open as usual.)
Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History


Dobanmo banner, Kosode cloth

If you found an old kimono, you might want to know about its history and wonder when it was made, what kind of techniques were used to make it, why it has the type of pattern it does, who wore it, and what the tale of its survival is. You would not be alone in wanting the answers to these questions. This exhibition is an attempt to delve into the history of kimono and other dyed and woven articles. It features surviving dyed and woven articles that were donated to Japanese shrines and temples, as well as those excavated from burial mounds in Korea. The items on display with their tales of survival are accompanied by inscriptions that include information on their users and wearers and the period from which they originated. These dyed and woven articles have much to say about their own histories. By gathering together mainly dyed and woven articles donated to Japanese shrines and temples and articles excavated from Korean burial mounds, this exhibition traces their history through a close examination of their shapes and forms, what could be thought of as their 'portraits.'

Exhibition Lineup

This exhibition will be held in two halves: The first half runs from Tuesday, October 15 to Monday, November 3, and the second half from Thursday, November 6 to Sunday, November 30. Each half will feature different items.

Part 1: From the Middle Ages to the Early Modern period

This part features a collection of dyed and woven articles from Japan dating from the Kamakura period up to the beginning of the Edo period, the initial phase of the kosode kimono, a direct antecedent of today's kimono. Items on display include cloth dedicated to Shinto and Buddhist deities that was custom made to extol virtue and beauty, as well as garments and other items made from garments. We explore values that determined which types of dyed and woven articles were prized above others. We also take a look at the first signs of individual expression connected to these values that emerged during the process by which kosode became the main form of dress.

Part 2: Early Modern period - Items made from garments

Here we feature items from Japan dating from the middle of the Edo period, by which time the kosode had cemented its position as the main form of dress. We examine the changes in techniques and patterns that took place by featuring only items that were made from garments such as kosode, Noh costumes and obi (kimono sashes).

Part 3: The world of Buddhist ornamentation at an imperial family temple - Ornamental items from theShorin-in Temple

This part of the exhibition gathers together cloth banners and altar cloth (uchishiki) from Shorin-in Temple in Kyoto, which was rebuilt as the ancestral temple of Kan'in-no-miya Haruhito Shinno (1758-1818). Most of these items were made from garments worn by women in the imperial family, the Tokugawa family and the nobility. Thus, these ornamental items from Shorin-in Temple illustrate facets of garments worn by women of high social rank in the latter part of the Edo period.

Part 4: Dyeing and weaving goods of Korea

This section displays excavated garments from burial mounds in Korea dating from the 16th to 19th centuries.

小袖 草花雲・松竹梅橘鶴亀模様片身替肩裾   打敷 若松花丸模様小袖裂
Kosode, Flower and cloud pattern (Shoulder and sleeve of one half of a kosode with a pine, bamboo, plum, orange tree, crane and turtle pattern)
Inscribed 1583
(National Treasure: Museum of Weaving & Knitting, Izumiotsu City)
Altar cloth, Kosode cloth with a young pine and flower pattern Inscribed 1727
(National Museum of Japanese History)
打敷 草花雲・雪持枝垂桜模様片身替肩裾小袖裂   打敷 三葉葵紋付雪松竹梅柊鳥居模様小袖裂
Altar cloth, Flower and cloud pattern (Shoulder and sleeve of one half of a kosode with a pattern of snow-laden cherry tree branches)
Late 16th century
(Kezo-in Temple, Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture)
Altar cloth, Kosode cloth with a cloud, pine, bamboo, plum, holly and torii pattern with hollyhock crest
Inscribed 1864
(National Museum of Japanese History)
腰線帖裏(ヨソンチョプリ) 蓮華蔓草模様   幢幡裳(どうばんも)
Official Robe of the Courtier, Arabesque lotus pattern
(National Folk Museum of Korea, South Korea)
Dobanmo banner, Kosode cloth
Circa 1847
(National Museum of Japanese History)

High resolution image is here

Shichijou Kesa
16th Century

(National Museum of Japanese History)
High resolution image is here


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Note: Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.