This pieced is named Kujaku meaning Peacock, focusing on these beautiful birds nestled among Peony flowers.
Peacocks began appearing on garments from the late Meiji period (1868 - 1912) but found more popularity in the early Showa Eta (1926 - 1988), and later had multiple interpretations of both the whole peacock and its feathers in combinations with other motifs from 1955 onwards.
Apart from the attraction of how beautiful the peacock is in itself, it gained further popularity due to the novelty of Western designs that incorporated them. Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) were introduced to Europe in huge numbers and had a considerable influence on Art Nouveau designs. These designs then re-entered Japan and were subsequently incorporated back into kimonos, pictures and other media. The peacock, which also eats noxious and poisonous insects, is considered a symbol of faith. In esoteric Buddhism, the deity Mahamayuri, who is often depicted riding a peacock, is believed to bestow blessings to remove disasters and distress that plague people.
Peonies are often referred to as the “king of flowers”. Believed to have been introduced to Japan from China during the Nara period (AD 710 - 784). It carried on to be cultivated at temples in the Heian period (AD 794 - 1185), grown at first for its medicinal properties and later for its beauty. In the late Muromachi period (AD 1334 - 1573), the peony started making appearances in paintings and sculptures. It was only in the Edo period (AD 1615 - 1868) that it grew in popularity and numerous ornamental varieties were grown. This led up to the peony becoming a popular motif on kimonos till this day.
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.