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Kimono History

Sunday, April 11, 2010 By InfoGatherer

In Japanese kimono means “the thing worn.” Variations have been worn since the early Nara period (roughly 7th and 8th century), influenced by Chinese fashion. During the Edo period (roughly 17th and through mid 19th century), it became more popular, and evolved to the basic style we see today. All members of society, from commoners to aristocrats, wore the kimono.

Kimonos are often seen as a symbol of traditional Japanese culture. Traditionally, only the elite wore the kimono regularly, the majority of people would only have worn the garment on special occasions. And even today, the kimono is still worn on special occasions.

Kimonos are worn with the left side wrapped over the right and secured with a sash called an obi. The wrap style allows for ease of movement, particularly in a culture where many activities are performed while seated on the floor.

The pattern on the fabric of the kimono is significant for its cultural meanings. Indications of social status, marital status, personal identity and age are expressed through color and decoration. Accessories such as combs and pins worn in the hair, are also important towards indicating status.

Adapted from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia