Bebe Taian: Coveted Kimono: Hagoromo Densetsu

November 11, 2010

Coveted Kimono: Hagoromo Densetsu

There is an uchikake I saw a long time ago, maybe six years or so. It was so beautiful, and so old! I thought I would never see it again. That is the way things are with most kimono. Once you see it, save the photo; unless you buy it, you will never see it again. But this month I was lucky. I saw this kimono again, but this time, Ichiroya was selling it! How did it get to Japan? If I recall correctly, Chuu (now Kimono Lily) in New York had been the previous sellers. Perhaps someone purchased it and then took it back with them. Surely, there is only one of this kimono. The stitching and dyeing do not lie- this is the same kimono as the one I saw before.

This kimono is called 'Hagoromo Densetsu'. It is a Taisho-era uchikake, probably early Taisho. Notice the larger crests, in the style of Meiji-era clothing? But the sleeve length of uchikake did not become longer until a little later in Taisho, so it is difficult to tell. The lining is white, so it may have been replaced at some point. Red lining was used in Taisho era, but because silk degrades easily in humidity and light, it sometimes must be replaced. As it is, the bottom padding is in need of replacement; easy enough to accomplish, since bolts of silk are sold frequently.

But how did the kimono get its name?

'Hagoromo Densetsu' is the famous story of a fisherman named Hakuriu who finds (some say stole) a cloak made of feathers belonging to a tennyo, a heavenly maiden. She begs it back from him because she cannot return to the Heavens without it. Luckily, he is moved by her pleading and returns it to her. She is so excited to have her cloak back that she dances into the sky. According to the legend, this happened in Miho-no-Matsubara in Suruga Province (today, eastern Shizuoka), where a wonderful view of Fuji-san can be seen in the distance.

If I had the money, this would be hanging on my wall right now. Preferably behind glass. I would do my best to restore it to its' former glory... but alas, I do not have nearly a grand ($800) to spend on it. In the meantime, I have photos of this piece archived from both times the kimono was listed for sale. 'Hagoromo Densetsu' is for sale right now through Ichiroya. Normally I don't link to kimono sales websites, as I am a seller myself, but this one is too good to pass up. It ships from Japan, so expect it to take a few weeks at the least to arrive. I've purchased myself through Ichiroya, and they have always had awesome service!

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