This pieced is named after the Ise-ebi or Japanese spiny lobster. It can grow up to 30cm long and are found in the seas south of central Japan, and large numbers are caught around the Ise area in the Mie Prefecture, hence the name. When depicted with a bent tail, it is considered a symbol of longevity, thus being a common appearance on celebratory occasions such as weddings. Clad in its armor of a shell, the lobster’s resemblance to a fearless samurai made it a symbol of good luck especially among warrior families.
Apart from being a popular seafood, it is also still used as a decoration piece in New Year celebrations, often placed on ceremonial trays with other items.
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.
Japanese embroidery (nihon shishu in Japanese) is an embroidery technique that goes back more than one thousand years. In its early stages Japanese Embroidery was only used for decorating items used during religious ceremonies. Over time, as shishu developed its own unique Japanese qualities and characteristics, it took on a more artistic purpose. According to historians, from the early Heian Period Japanese embroidery was primarily used for decorating the costumes of the Ladies of the Court. During these early stages, shishu was exclusively available to this very select group; only the highest ranks of society could afford such costly work.
Historically, Japan thread embroidery began in China with gold, silver, and copper metalwork. Gold and silver yarns were made by pounding gold and silver stock into extremely thin leaf, which was sliced into very narrow strips and then rolled around a core and twisted into yarn.