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Author:Michelle Kuhn Hirano (Yasuda Women's University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the meaning of man-made items featured in men's kimono designs in the Shotoku hinagata (1713). This paper compares women's patterns and illustrations of men's kimono in contemporary books to show the gender ambiguity implied within patterns meant for Kabuki actors.
Paper long abstract:
Clothing in the Edo period reflected the creativity, class, and personality of the wearer. Previous research has focused on connecting women's kimono designs to classical and contemporary Japanese literature. This paper will focus on a new area of design elements: man-made items in male fashion.
In the Shotoku hinagata (1713), the first five categories are women's kimono. Palace style patterns include classical literary themes and castle-topper (high-class courtesan) patterns are filled with objects of art. These images have precedent going back to the first extant kimono pattern book, the Onhinagata (1666). The palace and castle-topper style patterns do contain man-made objects, but they feature books and fans alluding to courtly culture and idyllic scenes of bridges and boats. On the other hand, the kimono in the men's categories depict urban masculine life.
The masculine categories take the reader through two stages of a man's life; from Wakashu (young male's style) to Yarō (actor's style). The patterns also follow a seasonal progression. The initial Wakashu patterns depict New Year's traditions and transition to auspicious designs related to summer pastimes. The final Wakashu patterns depict the clothes and accessories necessary for the manhood ceremony. In the second category, more than half of the Yarō patterns allude to marriage. One image in particular expresses the gender ambiguity of Yarō; a jumble of mirrors. The Yarō is presented via an object that he uses to ready himself for the stage every day, but is also traditionally associated with women. Textbooks for women in the early modern period were called "mirrors," mirrors form part of a bride's trousseau, and other prints by the Shotoku hinagata's author, Nishikawa Sukenobu, depict courtesans viewing themselves in mirrors. This paper will examine the relationship of this pattern to other patterns for women and ukiyo-e.
By considering patterns intended for production and including the category of Yarō, this paper will build on previous research on Wakashu clothing patterns in early modern illustrated books. Moreover, this paper will discuss the meaning of the Shotoku hinagata patterns and how Japanese masculinity in the 18th century was performed through clothing imagery.
Deciphering Edo Period Designs: The Social and Cultural Context of Early Modern and Modern Kimono Pattern Books