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catching colors, from all natural dyes, along with the heavy use of pure
gold threads create this very exceptional Obi.
DESCRIPTION: This exquisite “Maru” Obi, the most formal of the Obi, has been hand woven of the finest pure Silk and Gold threads. It is an extraordinary example of the most elaborate of the Maru Obi to be hand woven for Japanese women before the turn of the century. It has but one seam, meaning that the Obi was woven in one continuous panel before being folded over in such a way that the pattern was not lost in the fold. It is, however, the tremendous amount of pure gold thread woven into the design that makes it absolutely unique. The gold is not only part of the intricacy of the pattern; it also creates an overall sheen to this Obi that is unparalleled. Only a member of the nobility, someone with great wealth, could have commissioned the weaving of such a rich Obi.
This Obi is absolutely magnificent. The scattered fan pattern has been used here to integrate subordinate themes into a larger design connecting both Chinese and Japanese elements. Featured are the 2 types of fans used in Japan: the flat, rigid fan (“Uchiwa”) that originated in China; and the ribbed, folding fan (“Sensu”) that was invented in Japan. The flat fan displayed here has a lobed shape split by a central spine. It is still in use, especially by the sumo wrestling referees who dress in 14th Century clothing for the tournaments. Their greatest use, however, was in art in connection with religious figures, including the Seven Gods of Good Luck. The different patterns here, within each of the flat fan shapes, are intricate and geometric with a Chinese feel. Both fan shapes date to the Heian Era. The fabulous, mythical Phoenix (“ho-o”) is an auspicious symbol of nobility. It b3egan as an Imperial symbol in China and was adopted by the Japanese Emperors. The remaining folding fans display a myriad of Chrysanthemum blossoms (“Kiku”) amidst Paulownia leaves, another symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family. Thus, each of the individual elements of the overall pattern brings together both Japanese and Chinese symbols in a very sophisticated fashion.
Adding to the imagery of the design are the strong colors, taken from natural dyes. Beside the incredible amount of gold, the next most powerful colors are the various shades of purple. Purple (“Murasaki”) is the color of the Imperial Family, largely because of its great scarcity in ancient Japan. This bold and dramatic pattern, dominated by pure gold threads and bright colors associated with Japanese Royalty, comprises a garment that stands out and draws attention to itself, it stands to reason that this Obi would have been worn by a young, unmarried woman. Older, married women were not to draw attention to themselves and, typically, wore more somber colors and designs. The overall effect of this Obi is one of great prosperity, youth and beauty, while the gold stripes at the bottom of the Obi denote that a woman of high rank and status in Japanese society wore this Obi.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Japan
TYPE TEXTILE: This exquisite “Maru” Obi, the most formal of the Obi, has been hand woven of the finest pure Silk and Gold threads.
APPROXIMATE DATE OR PERIOD: Mid Meiji (1615-1867)
FABRIC CONTENT and CONDITION: Pure Silk and gold threads in excellent condition
FINISHED SIZE: 12 ¾ inches wide x 13 ¼ feet long
PRESENTATION: Creates an unusual and glorious wall hanging, either vertically or horizontally, or extraordinary table or chest runner.
A Certificate of Authenticity is included.
TTAC will personally pack and ship via UPS at company expense within the continental U.S.