Fashion Books of the Edo Period

Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives

Inside the beautiful Fashion Books of the Edo Period

Japanese Dress; Kimono and Kosode
What is the national costume of Japan? For most people, the first word that comes to mind is kimono. Unlike the tailored and contoured shapes of Western garments, the kimono is made from textiles cut into primarily rectangular shapes that are sewn together with straight seams. Instead of the tailoring that sets apart many Western fashions, traditional Japanese garments are distinguished instead by their surface designs and the weave and other features of their textiles.

The roots of the kimono

The roots of the kimono date back to the Heian period (794–1185). At that time, aristocratic women wore what are now known as twelve-layer robes (jūnihitoe), whose outer layers, such as the uchiki, had large, wide sleeves that were entirely open at the outer cuff ends (these were called ōsode, or “large sleeve [openings]”). The under layers of this outfit would include a kimono-like garment with small sleeve openings at the cuff (kosode, or “small sleeve [openings]”). But it was not until the Momoyama period (1573 –1603) and beginning of the Edo period (1603–1868) that this kosode inner robe came to be decorated in beautiful designs using techniques such as embroidery and tie-resist dyeing (shibori).

Edo period fashions

During the Edo period, as Japanese society became more stable, the potential of the kosode came into fruition. The creation of new techniques led to numerous innovative, richly colored kosode designs.

The kimono we know today developed out of Edo period kosode fashions as they changed over time according to changes in tastes and lifestyle.

Next, let’s look at some of the most important resources we have for understanding these Edo period fashions: kosode pattern books (hiinagata bon).

What are Kosode Pattern Books?
Kosode pattern books (hiinagata bon) containing numerous different designs for kosode robes served as the fashion magazines of their day. They acted as a form of visual communication between the consumers who were looking to order new kosode and the artisans who would actually make them. These monochrome woodblock printed books typically have one kosode design per page, with the garment shown from the back. The patterns are depicted in detailed line drawings supplemented with written text. The text gives additional information such as the name of the designs, suggested colors, or techniques in which such designs might be executed. Through these books, Edo period connoisseurs could access images of the newest fashions of the day.

Distribution of the pattern books

The impetus for producing these kosode design books was threefold: a culture of publishing that began in the 1600s, the development of new textile production techniques, and an active commercial distribution system focused in the three cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (now called Tokyo). Also, as the merchants and other commoners became wealthier, their interest in custom order clothing grew, leading to increased demand for custom order garments.

Characteristics of Some of the Kosode (Kimono) Design Books in Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives

These kosode design books in the collection of Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives were published in the 18th and 19th centuries. They include four different titles totaling seven volumes. The designs in these books are mostly organized by category, and their designs tend to have motifs clustered around the hem.

Tōsei Hiinagata Kyō no Mizu
Tōsei hiinagata Kyō no mizu was published in three volumes by the Kyoto publisher Nagata Chōbei. The designs in each of these volumes are distinct. Volume I features designs that cover the entire surface of the kosode. Volume II includes mostly designs covering the lower part of the body (known as koshidaka monyō). Volume III has designs with separate themes above and below the waist.

Tōryū hiinagata Kyō no mizu, Vol. I

Tōryū hiinagata Kyō no mizu, Vol. II

Tōryū hiinagata Kyō no mizu, Vol. III

Tōryū hiinagata Kyō no mizu, Vol. III

Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa
Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa comprises three volumes, of which Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives owns Volume I and Volume III. It is distinguished by its many Rinpa style designs inspired by the work of artist Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716), which were in vogue during the first half of the 18th century.

Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa, Vol I

Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa, Vol I

Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa, Vol II

Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa, Vol II

Hiinagata kikunoi
Hiinagata kikunoi was published in three volumes. Some other institutions have full sets, but the Kyoto Prefectural Institute, Library and Archives, owns only Volume II. Detailed information about pattern colors and textile techniques is written into the space below the sleeves. Many of these designs to be executed in yūzen dyeing, a technique that was developed in the late 17th century.
Shin hiinagata chitose sode
Shin hiinagata chitose sode was published in three volumes, of which Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives holds only Volume I. Most of these designs are clustered around the lower hem, reflecting the series of sumptuary laws issued by the Edo government at this time, which forbid conspicuous consumption. In addition to the usual images of the back of the robes, there are also design sketches that show only the front side of the kosode design.

『新雛形千歳袖』1800年刊(京都府立京都学・歴彩館(旧 京都府立総合資料館)蔵)
制作・撮影:株式会社堀内カラーアーカイブサポートセンター
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『新雛形千歳袖』は他所の所蔵では3冊あり、当館には上巻のみあります。江戸時代中期の相次ぐ奢侈禁止令を受けて文様が裾や褄裏に集まる頃のものです。背側の小袖形ではなく前身ごろの半身のみが掲載される図も登場します。

『新雛形千歳袖』1800年刊(京都府立京都学・歴彩館(旧 京都府立総合資料館)蔵)
制作・撮影:株式会社堀内カラーアーカイブサポートセンター

所蔵の雛形本の特色
当館で所蔵している小袖雛形本は、江戸時代の18世紀から19世紀のもので、4種7冊あります。文様がやや類型化し、褄や裾に模様が集まっていく頃の意匠が中心です。

Tōryū hiinagata Kyō no mizu, 1705 (Collection of Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives, formerly known as Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives)
Production and photography by Horiuchi Color Archive Support Center

Tōsei Kōrin shin hiinagata natorigawa, 1733 (Collection of Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives, formerly known as Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives)
Production and photography by Horiuchi Color Archive Support Center

Hiinagata kikunoi, 18th century (Collection of Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives, formerly known as Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives)
Production and photography by Horiuchi Color Archive Support Center

Shin hiinagata chitose sode, 1800 (Collection of Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives, formerly known as Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives)
Production and photography by Horiuchi Color Archive Support Center

Credits: Story

Translated by Melissa M. Rinne, Kyoto National Museum
Text and images courtesy of KYOTO prefectural INSTITUTE, LIBRARY and ARCHIVES
Hangi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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