At the foreground are Dahlia flowers, also known as Tenjikubotan, means “of good taste” in Hanakotoba, a fitting symbol of the spectacular dahlia flowers. Dahlia shrubs are large bushy flowering plants with huge flowers. Some dahlias have flowers like chrysanthemums, and others have double flowers with thin tapered petals that look like the sun’s rays.
In the background, weaved into the fabric are reeds of grass. Shibakusa is the generic term for blades of grass depicted as swaying in a gentle arc. The patterns are often layered with blooms and flowers, and also can be combined with snowflakes, snow and drops of dew. Often used as a background on summer kimonos, the shibakusa plays a supporting role to other motifs, yet its depiction on kimonos and obis often create an autumnal ambience.
This fabric uses a weave technique known as Nishijin Ori. Originating in Heian-kyōto over 1200 years ago, Nishijin weaving is known for its highly-decorative and finely-woven designs, created through the use of tedious and specialised production processes. It is well-regarded for the high quality and craftsmanship of the resulting fabrics, commonly used for high-quality obi and kimono. In 794, Heian-kyō became the new capital city of Japan, with the Imperial Court and the aristocracy moving to the city as a result; due to this, the production of nishijin-ori increased in order to supply the Court and the aristocracy.
After experiencing a surge in demand after the wars, and later on a decline due to crop shortages, and the moving of Japan's capital the production of nishijin-ori was halted until a resurgence in 1872. The production of nishijin-ori began to flourish once again, following a trip by some weavers to Europe in order to learn from the European weaving trade. During this trip, the weavers learned new techniques from the people of Europe, and adapted to the use of European weaving methods and machinery, such as the production of the Jacquard loom and the flying shuttle. By 1898, the Nishijin textile trade was well developed and encompassed the technology shared by the Europeans.
Layered on top of the weaving, this kimono likely uses a variation of Yuzen Dyeing for its intricate designs. The term yuzen is named for the legendary Kyoto-based artist Miyazaki Yuzen Sai (1650-1736), who was a lauded fan painter and the man who came up with the original techniques still seen in traditional kimono dying today.
Likely using the Kyo-Yuzen technique, it hails from Miyazaki Yuzen Sai’s home city of Kyoto. Created for the higher echelons of society, such as members of the imperial court, Kyo yuzen is all about showing off the finer things in life.