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Katabira Summer Kimono with Chrysanthemums and Fan Palm Leaves

Unknown17th Century

Kyoto National Museum

Kyoto National Museum

On a dark brown ground, a gigantic, open flower turns upwards to the sky reaching out from a branch on the right sleeve and spreading over both shoulders. Another, more discretely open flower runs from the waist to the hem. The two flowers together sketch a large figure “7” over the back of the garment. Such bold design compositions characterize the “Kanbun kosode” popular during the Kanbun era (1661–1673), of which this piece is considered representative.
At first glance, the design seems to consist solely of chrysanthemums, but actually it is a composite design of chrysanthemum flowers in the center surrounded by fan palm leaves. This is clear from an entry in a kosode pattern book published in 1667 (Kanbun 7), Onhiinakata, that is the source of the name Kanbun kosode, where a design closely resembling this piece is labeled as “chrysanthemum and fan palm.”
The hinagata books collected popular kosode designs, and like modern fashion magazines, guided women’s tastes, presumably stimulating the production of similar garments. There are, however, very few extant garments where the design corresponds to one in a hinagata pattern book.

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