Monday, April 25, 2016

Motifs: Ume (Plum Blossoms)

Close-up of kimono with burgundy ume blooms on a field of stripes.

Plum blossoms, not sakura (cherry blossoms) are the very first herald of spring, and so they are most appropriate for wearing in late winter (to push the season) and into the early spring months. They also form part of a popular motif for New Years-- Shochikubai-- as we saw when we were looking at juxtaposed motifs earlier this month.

Full view of the kimono with coordinating obi and kanzashi. Photo by Thad Gann.

While both ume and sakura are usually portrayed as having five petals, the plum blossom petals are rounded where cherry blossoms are notched. Also, ume is almost always portrayed as the full flower, while the sakura petals might be shown falling freely in the design in which they are depicted.

We saw this obi earlier in the month when we were talking about matsu. In that instance, we were looking at the pine needles.

The blue obi above is only missing bamboo for it to be an example of Shochikubai. As we learned earlier, it is fairly common to find ume and matsu paired together, as they are two of the 'three friends of winter.' As we've moved through the motifs this month, I'm sure that you've noticed many common pairings, even ones that I haven't pointed out specifically. I suspect that my kind readers have patterns or colors that they like to pair on a regular basis, and I would love to read about them in the comments!

Tomorrow, we'll be looking at another botanical motif: Vines!


  1. That image of you in this post - well done! Very professional looking.

    1. Thank you! Thad is a friend and does some really quality work. I am very grateful for the time he took to help me get some kimono photos.