Whose Sleeves?

Artist: Unknown Japanese

(Japan, early 17th century)

Not on View

A woman of the samurai class might accumulate an impressive collection of robes. The cut of a robe varied only according to their function, but the choice of surface decoration left plenty of room for individual expression.

Elaborate tie-dye and embroidery techniques initially allowed fabric designers to emulate the designs woven into Chinese luxury silks, but soon became a uniquely Japanese art form known as tsujigahana.

The hanging amulet, the stringed koto on the floor, and the beauty of the wardrobe suggest the owner of these items is a woman of alluring refinement.

Japanese fahionistas of the Edo period poured over sample books of fabric designs, published frequently between 1666 and 1820, the way some people today devour fashion magazines.

This screen was originally the right side of a pair. The partner screen likely depicted more clothes on racks or folded on the floor.