Outline of Exhibition

Beniitajime: Lingerie from the Edo Period to the Meiji Period
Period Jul. 26 (Tue),2011 - Sep. 4 (Sun), 2011
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 exhibitions included
* Free admission for elementary & junior high school students
* Free admission for senior high school students every Saturday

Hours Tuesday–Friday:
9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (entrance closed at 3:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Sunday, and National Holiday:
9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (entrance closed at 4:30 p.m.)
Closed

Aug 1 (Mon), 8 (Mon), 22 (Mon), 29 (Mon)

Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History

This exhibition is about beniitajime which flourished from the second half of the Edo period to the Meiji period.

Beniitajime is a technique of dyeing fabric pressed between templates (woodblocks with patterns engraved), and the main place of production using this technique was Kyoto. Many products using beniitajime were used for women's underclothing such as juban (undershirt), susoyoke (petticoat) and lingerie. Because of its ambiguity, the technique is also called phantom dyeing.

While beniitajime flourished, the techniques and the designs of dyeing and weaving changed dramatically because of the introduction of techniques or the import of products from Western countries. Beniitajime could not deal with such change and the production using this technique finally ended at the very beginning of the Showa period.

The Museum received donations of a large number of tools for beniitajime such as pattern paper, pattern sample books, pressing tools, etc. including more than 20,000 templates from Takano Dyeing Factory (currently closed; the original trade name was Beniu) in Kyoto in 2005. Beniu is one of the two families that continued the business of beniitajime in Kyoto until its demise.

This special exhibition shows the production process of beniitajime based on the tools handed down to Beniu to attempt to solve at least one of the many mysteries that still remain in the technique. Surprisingly, a large number of actual products produced with the tools handed down to Beniu were also discovered. The exhibition is also a unique opportunity to exhibit a large number of those actual products or women's underclothing that have not been released to the public very often. We hope you will thoroughly enjoy the beauty of these products.

Exhibition Lineup

The First Section: "Beniu" or Takano Family

Beniu is a dyer that established beniitajime in Kyoto and continued for four generations from the Kaei era (1848 - 1854) in the Edo period. Especially, the second-generation Uichiro played an active role by creating a pattern book for beniitajime, etc. Beniu or the Takano family is introduced in this section.

【Main Artifacts】

Juban with cherry blossom, paulownia pattern; itajime pattern book; Takano dyeing factory layout and floor plan; account book, etc.

The Second Section: Dyeing Technique

Beniitajime is a technique of dyeing fabric pressed between templates. The basic principle and the tools are shown in this section. Although primitive, beniitajime is a technique for mass production, and the patterns imitating more luxury products were also produced. Such characteristics are also explained in this section.

【Main Artifacts】

Pressing frame; template of water bird, check pattern; template of running water, maple pattern; lingerie with hemp leaf kumodori pattern; lingerie with Genji-ko flower pattern, etc.

The Third Section: Template Production

Ten templates or more make one set. The specific procedure of producing a template from a sketch is shown. People who engraved templates in the Meiji period are also introduced together with the chisels used, engraved templates, and actual products dyed with those tools.

【Main Artifacts】

Sketch of wild ginger, cherry blossom pattern; pattern paper of wild ginger, cherry blossom pattern; chisels; template of chrysanthemum, paulownia, arabesque pattern; lingerie with chrysanthemum, paulownia, arabesque pattern, etc.

The Fourth Section: Invention of Pattern

Beniitajime is a dyeing technique with many limitations on the expression of pattern. Blanks are made in the joint of the templates, and the color tends to be monotonous. Various inventions have been attempted to overcome such limitations. Those inventions are introduced in this section.

【Main Artifacts】

Lingerie with hemp leaf pattern; side surface template of hemp leaf pattern; lingerie with butterfly, wheat pattern; lingerie with wild ginger, check pattern; patched work-lingerie with plover, lespedeza pattern, etc.

The Fifth Section: Periods and Patterns

Some tools are inscribed with the years. With those years as a clue, the characteristics of respective patterns in the Edo period and the Meiji and subsequent periods are observed. Unique patterns that reflect the periods are also introduced.

【Main Artifacts】

Pattern paper of hemp leaf pattern; juban with dianthus, butterfly, shokko pattern; template of chrysanthemum, paulownia pattern; template of demon's lantern march; template of rose pattern, etc.

The Sixth Section: History and Beauty

A large number of actual products are displayed together with tools that correspond to their patterns to show the aspect and the change of the beauty of women's underclothing.

【Main Artifacts】

Lingerie with chrysanthemum, peony, butterfly pattern; lingerie with butterfly, flower, pattern; lingerie with rain dragon, cherry blossom pattern; lingerie with hydrangea pattern, etc.

Juban with cherry blossom, paulownia pattern   Juban with cherry blossom, paulownia pattern
Juban with cherry blossom, paulownia pattern
This juban was handed down to Beniu. The mark of the Takano family is stamped on the crimson crepe fabric. Besides beniitajime, Beniu also used crimson dye without patterns.
(Museum Collection)
Template of water bird, check pattern   Template of water bird, check pattern
Template of water bird, check pattern
For dyeing, fabric is pressed between templates with patterns engraved symmetrically as shown above.
(Museum Collection)
Lingerie with chrysanthemum, peony, butterfly pattern and its template   Lingerie with chrysanthemum, peony, butterfly pattern and its template
Lingerie with chrysanthemum, peony, butterfly pattern and its template
The lingerie was produced in the Meiji period, and the template in the second half of the Edo period. This dyeing white pattern on a crimson background is called suitajime.
(Museum Collection)
Lingerie with rain dragon, cherry blossom pattern and its template   Lingerie with rain dragon, cherry blossom pattern and its template
Lingerie with rain dragon, cherry blossom pattern and its template
Both were produced in the Meiji period. Gradation is seen in the cherry blossoms. The dyeing with such gradation is called akebonoitajime.
(Museum Collection)

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