This is an antique men's silk juban, an undergarment worn under a kimono. For today’s standards, it is very odd to see such an extravagant hidden personal item.
During the Edo period, which ended in 1868, common people were not allowed to wear silk. The growing economical power of merchants came along with social disorder and corruption. Tokugawa government issued many sumptuary laws to limit the spending of the general people on luxury items. One way to avoid the punishment was to spend their wealth (tremendous wealth in some case) where it could not be monitered. At the time, silk fabric made to look like cotton (tsumugi) became popular.
The art work on this gown is exceptionally attractive. The design is calm and serene but the subject is deadly and aggressive, since hawks hardly miss their targets that they pray on. The ‘hawk on pine tree’ was a popular theme among artists during the Edo period (1603-1868). The first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, was fond of hawking. Ieyasu (Tokugawa) himself spent his youth as a hostage to the Imagawa clan which was a powerful neighboring clan. He was sent out at Imagawa's request (also asked by Oda Nobunaga, another neighbor on the other side). He was not necessarily mistreated but he could have died had his family attacked them. It was a way of life back then. Peace did not last long. Only the predators and victims, it seems.
The fabrics of this juban are very soft silks (also very light weight), front and the liner. The color of the liner changed from white to a cream/slightly brown color over the years with some yellowish stains on the back. The owner of this gown was very much aware of the quality; it wasn't worn very much and was kept amazingly well maintained. The base color is grayish green with some earthy tones. The color difference shown in some photos is not so obvious. Silk reflects light in very different ways; some photos that we took showed a tan color when it was hit with light. I think that it adds character to an old textile. Circa Meiji to Taisho. The measurements are; 51 1/2" wide x 53" length