Of the five robes mentioned, the Japon rok, Turk and Muscavoy are worn during both the 17th and 18th Centuries in New York and New Netherland. For those 17thC reenactors preferring a fitted garment like the Banyan, consider a Muscavoy coat which is a similar fit and length but with parallel horizontal frogging down the front. You probably have seen them in paintings. Or a Turk which has fitted sleeves and wrap front. The Sultan has wide sleeves like the Japon. We can circle back to these other robes.
1766 - A Large Dictionary English and Dutch: in two parts - "“Ro’k, a coat, gown. (next) een Japonsche-rok, a chamber-gown."
1707 - A Large Dictionary English and Dutch,: In Two Parts by the Englishman Willem Sewel, “JAPON, Japonse rok, a Chamber gown."
In Early Documents:
By E.V. V. "...that was the end of justice. The Elector went beforehand, with the principal Ladies, at one end of the Hall, where after his Seal, regal thoroughness, with a long Japanese dress, was done..."
Were there other items from Japan?
Yes. Japanese stilyards, a type of scale, are common in most any inventory where someone sold groceries, sugar, textiles,... anything. Sometimes, a person (men and women) didn't sell anything and there are large and small stilyards in the same inventory. The small ones can be carried in a bag they are so small and good for purchasing small personal size amounts of tea or sugar. There is a Japanese cutlas. There are also Japanese quilts, compared to ones from India. Plus, lacquered chests small and large. Plus, the type of pant worn with the Japon were also imported. Much of this is due to Wina van Hoorn who imported goods from the far east, but also from India.
1669 - Portrait of Amsterdam predikant Conradus Hoppe, by Jan Veenhuysen
Were there Japon Robes in America?
There are defiantly a number of them as they are called such by name, Japon rok or Japon robe plus the paintings ! There is another robe, that we can tell is a Japon because it was "padded" as described in Dutch: 1693, Albany, a night "rok" with padding. We can include this because the inventory was written in Dutch with the exact same terms being used in the Netherlands for the same time period. A Night dress in the Netherlands is a robe worn over clothes in place of a coat or jacket. This particular robe is listed with the petticoats.
A 1685 NYC probate inventory has, "1 Japon Coate lining with 'redd' say 01:15:00". This robe was possibly a Dutch or domestically (American) made Japon coat as say was not a textile of Japan. However, the "1 blew silk Japon men gowne 02:10:00" and the "1 ditto 'redd' 02:10:00 that were for sale in an East Indies store in 1685 Manhattan are highly likely imported Japanese kosode. This same store also lists a number of flowered "India jackets" so we can see that this is not confusion on the part of the author's, who happened to be the owner of the shop. In 1686, the Mayor of Albany owned 2 Japon robes.
At one to two pounds it was not a robe within "every" person's means, but it is comparable to other clothing. As can be seen, one silk Japon is worth about one man's suit or a woman's scarlet petticoat and Samare from a squarely middle class couple's wardrobe. Alternatively, the domestically made one is the same cost as a Jacket. A colonist could have two sets of waistcoat and bottoms and wear a jacket with one and a Japon with the other.
1685: 1 black “gross” “greaine” “suite” [men's] 02:17:00, 1 "Indea" "petticoats" with body of "redd" bay 00:17:00, 1 ditto [woman's Indea petticoat] Scarlett 01:15:00, 1 flowered calico petty coats with "redd" lining 00:16:00, 1 colored "stuff" Samare [woman's pleated back coat] 01:10:00.
The PAINTINGS !
There are a few of them, most of which show women wearing them. The upper portrait: This is one of the most beautiful, the sitter is unknown though from New York and the painting is attributed to Gerrit Duyckinck c1660-1710. The lower family painting: Below is a painting of the Emmanuel de Witte, Family Portrait, Munich 1677 with a daughter in similar Japon. It is likely that our unknown sitter is painted about 1690 due to the gown, fan, hair and also the front lacing stay. (There are a couple early inventories that mention having a painting of their daughter, that with further research it may be possible to narrow who this person is down to 1 or two choices.) Because there are no stays for children recorded in 17th Century inventories except out on Long Island, I would say she is over 14 years old and likely closer to her late teens. Her clothing shows her sophistication as she choose a garment from Japan rather than other styles, her stays were attractive so instead of a stomacher she showed the lacing. This is common among Central Europeans. Her fan, again, is a fashion statement, on trend, and nothing more. The flower however, may have some significance beyond giving her something to hold, but it is important not to read too deep. Her hair being down is also common in New York for woman, and should not be read into. Visitors comment on the simple hair styles of New Yorkers, and their "spritely" attitudes.
This gown, along with the Turkish robe will dominate fashions in New York from about 1700-1740s and possibly through the F&I war (1763).
1668 - "...And also tolerable, if we (wishing that our words are kept closed under the Rose), there are also bad people in company and at the beer bank; In the old habit of wearing rose wreaths in guest rooms, and in this manner, we do not speak of the custom (who is the High-German), who paint a rose in the button [?] on the table. But it would be more significant if it were as original as Lemnius and other written books, that the Rose was the Flower of Venus, which Cupid Harpocrates, the God of silent temperament, had tolerated;..." - "Pseudo-doxia epidemica, dat is: Beschryvinge van verscheyde algemene dwalingen des volks,..."
The painted flower may reference the idea of a Rose by any other name by William Shakespeare. A 1740 reference to how to paint wreaths of roses or flowers states "... and although every flower has its own name, shape and color, it is not considered, however, in general, that is to say, as under the name can flowers." - Book, "Groot schilderboek, waar in de schilderkonst in al haar deelen grondig werd onderweezen, ..."
If we look at the use of the rose, and the fact that Glen was about to be married, the roses simply represent love.
Merchant: Robert Livingston (1654-1728), Lord of Livingston Manor, New York. The Painting was likely made while he held office 1715 – 1728. - Note how Livingston's hair is brown like the other Dutch paintings but parted at top and the style more structured. And that he points and holds his robe like the Dutch paintings specifically one painted by Caspar Netscher (1639 - 1684) . In most paintings the wearer has to use one hand to hold the Japon closed, however, when painted in genre the Japon is held together with a sash.
Scientist: Portrait of Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek, Natural Philosopher and Zoologist in Delft, Netherlands, Jan Verkolje (I), 1680 - 1686
The Japon robe when appropriated by the French is so popular it will be the first on record as being downgraded to a chamber gown from its standing as a robe for Samurai. It is possible that the French had no idea of its importance having adopted the fashion through the Dutch, though they are aware of the original name, Japon.
There are about eight paintings of New York woman plus Livingston's with a Japon, plus another six in personal inventories (that do not line up with the paintings unfortunately) and another two in a store for sale. It is a robe that could easily be worn for reenacting from the 1650/60s to at least the end of the French and Indian war 1763. New York will never really leave their interest in Japan on the table, paintings by artist will show women in both kosode and later kimonos for some time to come.
Johannes Hudde (1628 - 1704), Michiel van Musscher, 1686, This one is flowered and padded:
1710 - La diseuse de bonne aventure | Jean Antoine Watteau (1710), And an extend Italian Japon from 1710-1720 made of Lampus comes with blue cap of same material and Caspar Netscher (d. 1684) - Portret van een man in Japanse mantel.
2 Paintings attributed to Caspar Netscher (d.1684) - Sold at Auctions
This one below in black is one of the most rare types of kimono, due to its color, also by Caspar Netscher (d. 1684).