Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Japanese Kimono

Kimono is a japanese word that describes the traditional nipon costume,worn both by men and women. The term is of rather recent origins, dating back in the 19th century, when it was introduced to clearly mark the limits between Western clothing, yokufu, and wafuku, the japanese traditional costumes. Kimono comes from kiru(to wear) and mono(thing) and therefore literary means "thing to wear". The japanese kimono is said to had been influenced by the Chinese traditional costumes used during the Han period( apx. II century A.D.).

The kimono comes, invariable, in a fixed, universal size, its lenght being adjusted by a binding silk cord, its margins folding over it. The kimono's colours had to be chosen carefully, as they indicated the owner's rank in society. The kimono cult blossomed during the Edo age. The trend was set by kabukiactors and high class dames.

The kimono tradition spread all across Japan, this costume being mass-worn by all social strata of the japanese society. That until the Meiji period, when Western clothing became a compulsory requirement for all those helding public functions; even in this conditions, many women kept wearing the traditional kimono long after the II World War.

Nowdays, the kimono costume is being worn only at special occasions, like weddings, New Year's Eve or during the tea ceremony. The kimono cloth, as well as its colours and decorations carry information in relation with the owner's age and social status. Also the adroid mix of accessories and the colour palette can tell a lot about his/her personality. The entire outfit has to be carefully calculated in respect with the season in which it is worn. In such way, dull colours are used in the spring time, while bleak hues are appropriate during the summer. For autumn, the kimono colours are more nature-like, while in winter the most common are the strong hues, like red or black.
A traditional Kimono can be very expensive, starting from 10.000 $ up. This hasn't to be such a huge surprise, if we consider that it is hand weaved and hand painted using ancient japanese techniques.

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