Thursday, July 19, 2018
Journal Entry 2 - Japanese Kimonos
"1 blew silk Japon men gowne 02:10:00" NY
The total count for Japanese robes is up to 7, in three probate inventories plus one store inventory as they were for sale. One is European or American made because it is lined with "say" fabric, the others are the right materials e.g. silk and colors e.g. red or blue or muted or padded which is a bells a whistles kimono to have been imported form Japan, or were part of a group of Asian objects. Though for those gowns not labeled as being specifically "Japan" or "Japon" it is difficult to know just how many are really in inventories.
Japanese kimonos were being imported to Europe starting in 1641. When I believe 20 or so were shipped back to the Netherlands that year.
What does this mean? What does this say about the society in the 17th Century?
Sometimes it can be difficult to interpret items in inventories. These kimonos tied in with the earlier Japanese sword, the porcelain figurines, porcelain people, along with the items from China which included those fabulous small red earthen tea pots also called Yixing / Zisha pots, points to a subset culture within the province. Then there are the fans... but what kind is unknown.
The robe is present in both Manhattan and in Albany, and seems to be demonstrate an interest in the far east, specifically Japan and Malaysia and nations within this area. The red ginger in an inventory speaks to this. How this information will play out is unknown.
One thing is clear, they were here and being worn as even one of the estate owners had his painting with one on in the correct color and the shoulders are dead on for the correct shape. So, that would actually make 8.
17th Century Japanese robes are the opposite in shape to the Banyan which is fitted with fitted sleeves. The 17th Century Japane robe is wide, with wide sleeves, and often padded for winter, but also not buttoned and tied with a sash... usually Ottoman or Indian style sash by men, and belts by women.
Maybe this points to a culture of sophistication rather than elegance, books are common along with prints of the far east, so globalism or worldliness seems to be both an interest and possibly a passion. A few inventories reflect people immersing themselves in a semi-Asian appropriation of culture.
Normally we think of the 18th Century as a time for enlightenment, what does the presence of an outward looking mindset or worldliness imply about 17th Century New York?
Notes to self, get a Yixing / Zisha pot.