This pieced is named after the Phoenix motifs on this immaculate piece. It combines multiple motifs layered upon each other, showcased on a Tomesode, a type of formal dress kimono only worn by married women of the highest rank.
The phoenix is an imaginary bird, the Chinese characters for which mean "spirit of fire" and "female." Much debate surrounds its origins, evolution and history. A common depiction is that its feathers come in five different colors and the characters for respected Confucian virtues such as righteousness, propriety, benevolence, wisdom and fidelity, were worked into the feathers of its neck, back and chest respectively. It is said that many other birds follow when the phoenix takes flight.
Legend has it that its appearance is an omen of the birth of a virtuous emperor. These various beliefs have made the phoenix a favored motif for celebratory garments. In the early Showa period (1926 - 1988), designs were given a Japanese touch and color schemes were toned down to make the phoenix motif more suitable for women.
The Phoenix motif is placed upon a background of the flowers of four seasons. Mixing multiple flowers from different seasons was meant to allow the wearer to use it all year round apart from summer. This also often resulted in a more luxurious style to these motifs as it was meant to look timeless. The techniques used to create compositions of different flowers often varied and relied on layering the flowers against other motifs to allow them to have an overall flow, while still separating them from the rest of the background.
Cranes are also seen in the background, considered mystical birds and are known for their noble elegance. The notion that they have a long life goes back thousands of years. Cranes live by clear water instead of gathering in forests, unlike regular birds, this led to them being referred to as “lords of feathered creatures”.
This kimono likely uses 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. Typical Kyo yuzen designs can be spotted by their intricate patterns, which are not afraid to incorporate elaborate silver and gold leaf embroidery into their design.
As it relies on a wide spectrum of colors, creating Kyo yuzen garments requires a large number of steps. Typically there was a different artisan assigned to each step of the process. A distinctive characteristic of this technique is that flower petals are usually darker in the centre and get lighter towards the outside.
Dry clean (recommended) / Handwash.
Store in cool and dry place away from direct sunlight without plastic covering to avoid trapping humidity and mildew
Note: As with most vintage clothing, there might be slight stains and small holes dependent on the condition of the piece.