uchikake (Kimono)

About this object

History of use

Uchikake (打掛) is a highly formal outer kimono and is worn only by a bride or at a stage performance. Uchikake is usually heavily brocaded and padded along the hem known as fuki (袘). Uchikake with long swinging sleeves is usually worn by a bride. This one was probably worn by a wealthy lord’s daughter.

Iconographic meaning

The kimono bears many auspicious symbols, including cranes, turtles, Mandarin ducks, small oranges, peonies and narcissus, along with unopened hamaguri clams, which often represent young unmarried women. Flowers and plants represent the seasons.

Specific techniques

Every arch-shaped panel on this kimono is embroidered with a different natural image, using many kinds of stitches and gold-thread couching. The makers probably created the mottled gold background by applying gold leaf or gold dust over an adhesive surface.

Physical description

Dark blue uchikake (打掛) with many embroidered squares. The neck and centre opening are edged with a wide blue band. The sleeves are short with long hanging panels and an opening under the arms. On the front, back and sleeves are embroidered squares. Each square has a rounded top and a different motif. The motifs include towers, bamboo, waves, birds, flowers and leaves in predominantly gold, green, brown, yellow and orange on dark blue ground. The inner lining is red silk and padded with cotton in some places known as fuki (袘).