Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Feb. 5th, 2010

branchandroot: Killua looking wry (Killua wry)
I think I've finally pinned down something that makes me twitch about the things one can find in English regarding the history and wearing of kimono. And this one is actually not the spectacle of white girls wanting to be geisha or otherwise appropriating culturally specific ceremonials, though that makes me twitch pretty damn bad. No, this one is subtler: the stunning class bias encoded in nearly every text, to the point that only one in fifty or so will even mention that the kimono styles they are all talking about are solely what the upper class wore in any given period.

When you read that site about jyuuni-hitoe, or that book about the history of kimono, or that message board about how to wear kimono today, and they all talk about "the history of kimono" or "the types of kimono" nary a word will you find about the fact that all these fashions and rules and standards and layers were exclusively those of nobles or the warrior class. Or that there were a lot more people than that walking around with clothing on that was, of necessity, far simpler and more utile, and that they are just as much part of this clothing history.

And I don't know if a similar erasure is part of the Japanese discourse of kimono. I suspect it is from the little snippets I've seen but a bit differently shaped--more part and parcel of the post-Civil War arrogation of warrior-class privileges to the general populace. Compare with the way everyone in the US will say they are middle class, blue collar and white, taxi driver to CEO.

Of course, the part of all this that amuses me mightily, from an historical perspective, is that the modern wearing of kimono, despite having been frozen by largely ceremonial use, has still managed to steadily inch its way further and further toward the working class and even peasant mode of clothing: one layer, simple ties. It reminds me, albeit reversed, of the way the merchant class got around the sumptuary laws: put the good stuff on the inside. Or, in this case, reduce the layers and ties on the inside by using clip-ons and decorations that are stitched in place.

But is there any mention of this, or even of the fact that people existed who were not wearing twelve layers of silk according to the season? Vanishingly little. Argh.

September 2017

1718 1920212223

Style Credit

Page generated Oct. 23rd, 2017 08:56 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios