This beautifully embroidered piece showcases embroidered spools of thread as its focal point. What began as a familiar tool for women started appearing as motifs on traditional garments. Often various kinds of spools are depicted, from flat squares with a hollow center to three dimensional types used for weaving, and even spools used for kite flying.
Playing a key role in many kabuki plays, even that of the iconic play Proper Upbringing of a Young Lady at Mount Imose (Imose-yama Onna Teikin), where in act 4, there is a scene named Koi no Odamaki, which translates to The Spool of Love. This is due to the legend of the red thread that binds lovers to one another, thus spools of thread also indicate the wish for love and marriage.
Japanese artisans have used embroidery to create opulent effects on kimonos, especially lavish wedding kimonos. With silk floss and variations on the "long and short stitch" or satin stitch, hira-nui, they have built up entire motifs. Some forms have even become three-dimensional, and are also used to frame and combine with hand painted artworks on the kimono pieces.
Gold and silver threads are made of foil applied to thin membrane or paper strips which are wrapped around silk threads. These metallic threads cannot be stitched through the silk fabrics, so they are traditionally "couched": laid on the fabric surface and stitched down with fine silk threads. Motifs may be outlined with gold couching or entire motifs may be formed with metallic yarns placed side by side. The technique is called shusu.