At the focus point of this piece are carriages or rickshaws. Rickshaws were independently invented in Japan circa 1869, although also found in France in earlier years. Rickshaw originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha (人力車, 人 jin = human, 力 riki = power or force, 車 sha = vehicle), which literally means "human-powered vehicle". Its demand surged after the lifting of a ban on wheeled vehicles from the Tokugawa period (1603–1868), and at the beginning of a period of rapid technical advancement in Japan. The eight-spoked wheel serves as a common symbol in Buddhist culture, representing rapid spiritual change and the cycle of rebirth.
Before the Japanese revolutionized the automotive industry, the fly ride in Japan was the ox cart. Because of its association with nobility, the wheeled vehicle appears as a design element on such items as kimonos and room screens.
Among the rickshaws, there are flower basket motifs. Historically, bamboo baskets (hanakoga) have served utilitarian functions in Japanese daily life. At the same time, those that are less formal and rustic have also been valued for their beauty. Baskets are also intimately connected to Japanese culture through the art of flower arrangement (ikebana) and tea ceremonies. Traditionally, young plants are picked in early spring, resulting in the flower basket being a popular motif for spring kimonos and obis.
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.
Layered with the embroidery, 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.