Saturday, April 23, 2016

Motifs: Tsuru (Cranes)

Symbolic of a long life, it is no wonder that cranes are a popular motif in a variety of mediums. That they are graceful and easily portrayed in a number of ways certainly doesn't hurt their popularity, either!

Whenever I'm going out and want something particularly auspicious or commemorative, I will try to incorporate this obi into my ensemble.

Obi with crane and wheel motif.
Because of the amount of gold thread in this particular obi, I often worry that it is a little too formal for wherever I may be going, but it is by no means the most formal item in my collection.

If I am going out for less formal occasions, or I don't wish to feel quite as confined as I sometimes do in kimono, I will often dress in hakama and hakamashita (this is the term I use for kimono tops, mostly ones that I've made, that are cut short so that I don't have to fold them to accommodate the rise in my hakama). Back in January, I had an opportunity to attend the Edwardian Ball in San Francisco (in honor of Edward Gorey), and for the second night of that event, I chose to dress as inspired by the Meiji Era.

Hakama and hakamashita, with haori and derby hat. I wore a collared shirt under instead of a juban, as was becoming fashion during the Meiji Restoration (late 1800s).
Detail image of the hakamashita pictured above. I'd also like to point out the matsu, or pine motifs, and apologize for everything being sideways.
The cranes here are pictured a little more realistically (as long as we ignore the purple pine trees) and not so uniform as the cranes of the obi, but the coloring and pattern lend this garment to slightly more whimsical and informal settings, and the Edwardian Ball was most certainly 'whimsical.'

Some of my garments featuring cranes aren't even likely to be seen by the casual observer. It isn't uncommon for undergarments like juban to be decorated, and earlier this month, I gave you a peek at one of my kimono underskirts (susoyoke) that is covered in origami style cranes. A garment like that isn't really one that I figure into the effect of an ensemble as a whole, mostly because it shouldn't ever be seen except in very brief glances. I think that there is a lot to be said for having little secrets like that in a wardrobe, and if my kind readers have any that they are willing to share, I would love to read about them in the comments!

I'll be back on Monday when we'll be having a look at a very popular botanical motif: Ume (Plum Blossoms)


  1. Replies
    1. I suspect that one was either a Hoffman or a Kona Bay print. I haven't seen it in YEARS of course, but I'm glad I was able to pick up some when I did. Both lines do some very lovely Japanese-inspired prints (though Kona Bay tends to be for quilters, which means that the prints run directionally, and THAT means they're not very good for kimono, unless you don't mind elements being upside down on one side).