Textile Fashions in Japanese Woodcuts
Museum für Asiatische Kunst
Traditional textile fashions in Japan simultaneously embody aesthetic concepts and the social status of the wearer. The development of Japanese textile art reached its apogee during the Tokugawa period (17th to 19th c.), when fashion became a form of intercultural expression, in which the traditions of the burgeoning merchant and artisan class were woven together with those of the aristocratic class (the shogunate). The fashionable dress of this period consisted in an array of different visual motifs and materials with specific historical resonances. All these culturally-laden 'threads' combined to form a dazzling, patterned display that reflected an age of the ever-flowing, transitory world (ukiyo).
The textile versatility of the age is most apparent in the 'brocade pictures,' a term used to describe Japanese multi-coloured prints from the mid-17th century onwards. Beyond their visual and textural beauty, they provide limitless insight into the fashion consciousness of Japanese urban culture in the Tokugawa period and form a rich compendium of images of textile styles.
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