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Deciphering Edo Period Designs: The Social and Cultural Context of Early Modern and Modern Kimono Pattern Books 
Aki Ishigami (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
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Visual Arts
Thursday 26 August, 10:15-11:45 (UTC+2)

Short Abstract:

This panel discusses the history and social context of kimono pattern books. The three papers trace the history of pattern books, discuss one book's gender structure, and examine the development of kimono dying techniques.

Long Abstract

The clothes we array ourselves in reveal our societal structures, ideals, technology, and trends. However, kosode hinagatabon (kimono pattern books depicting the precursor of the modern kimono) have been overlooked because they were viewed as resources merely for clothing history. This panel will demonstrate the importance of these books as sources for multiple fields through a discussion of books published from the 17th-20th centuries.

At the beginning of the Edo period the merchant class came to the fore as patrons of culture and consumers. Due to economic stabilization, industrialization, the spread of cotton cloth and improvements to dying techniques, many more people were able to enjoy kosode as fashion statements. The oldest extant hinagatabon, named simply Onhinagata (Design Patterns, 1666) appeared at the very moment kosode were permeating popular culture. Prior to the early 19th century more than 170 different pattern books were published. A hinagatabon typically depicts the back of a kosode along with notes for suggested color, design, weaving and dying techniques. Women used these books both to order kosode and enjoy as reading material. Though hinagatabon printing dropped significantly during the end of the Edo period, these hinagatabon were reproduced in the Meiji period due to a call for new designs and brought about a new era of clothing culture.

The first paper will give an overview of the origin of hinagatabon in the early to mid-Edo period while paying close attention to the images associated with each social class. The printing of Natural History books in Kyoto and Osaka in the 18th century set the stage for the development of hinagatabon. The second paper will focus on the 96 patterns of the Shōtoku Hinagata (Patterns for the Shōtoku era, 1713) and discuss the construction of gender and class in the early 18th century. By comparing hinagatabon and zuan from each epoch, the third paper shows how the techniques and designs interacted. This panel will discuss the social and cultural context of clothing by shining a light on various fields and considering hinagatabon as the locus of information and knowledge about publication, technology, industry, and design.

Accepted papers: