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Samurai Kamishimo, Blue See-Through Tsumoji Kataginu

Samurai Kamishimo, Blue See-Through Tsumoji Kataginu

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Textiles: Pre 1900: Item # 801363
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This is a "kataginu" (shoulder cloth), only the upper vest of kamishimo without trousers. Kami-shimo simply means top and bottom in Japanese. It was a high ranking samurai's formal attire when they attended official meetings at the Edo castle. It was worn over a kosode (kimono with small sleeves) with trousers. The shoulders are arch shaped and this was the style that developed in the late Edo period (1603-1868). Longer trousers (approx. 1.5 times longer) were chosen for special occasions. The small sword, "chiisa-gatana" and fan were added to finish the look as a part of their dress code. The Tokugawa government was occasionally forced to step in to limit the competition among daimyo (regional lords) with their attire.

We have several "kataginu" with the same family crest of "tea berry" at this time. The colors, fabrics, shape and the way they were made are beautiful. The owner must have been pretty keen on his appearance. They may be well preserved and look good but old and not wearable. Kamishimo has also been worn as a costume for rare traditional events or by theatrical musicians and dancers in Kabuki up to this day.

We found an identical kataginu (with different crests) at the Mie Prefecture Museum, Japan. http://www.pref.mie.jp/haku/Hp/Osusume/tsumoji.htm

The "tsumoji" fabric had been produced in the Mino region (old name for Mie pref. area) from the Azuchi Momoyama, Edo to Mid Meiji Period. The kataginu in their posession was worn by a samurai. In an old recording published in 1712, the Tsumoji was described as resembling a mosquito net and woven with 'asa' (Bast fiber) as the warp and silk as the weft yarn. It is Ramie and silk. It was presented to Tokugawa Shogun and and other daimyo (fuedal lords) for over 200 years during the Edo period. Since the production stopped in the Meiji period and very little material was left about tsumoji, they have been called "akatsuki no (phantom like) fabric" until recently. Late Edo period (1603-1868), 26" wide x 34 1/4" long