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Black crepe haori with kotobuki designs in several colors

Accession Number

Black crepe haori with kotobuki designs in several colors


Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
black crepe silk with wax resist design with red and white silk twill lining

35 1/16 in x 53 1/8 in (89 cm x 135 cm);24 1/8 in (61.3 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Howard and Patricia Yamaguchi

Label copy
Haori with designs of character kotobuki (longevity)
Sho ̄wa period (1926–1989)
Black crepe silk with wax resist design with red and white silk twill lining
Gift of Howard and Patricia Yamaguchi, 2005/1.352

Obi with designs of character kotobuki (longevity)
Sho ̄wa period (1926–1989)
20th century
Silk brocade with embroidery
Gift of Howard and Patricia Yamaguchi, 2013/2.372

Obi began as modest cloth belts that held kimono in place.
By the twentieth century, they were regarded as one of the
fundamental decorative components of traditional women’s
dress. Tied in the back to form elaborate knots, they are
essential to produce the straight-lined silhouette of kimono.
Haori originated as men’s jackets but were adopted by women
after regulatory laws were loosened during Japan’s period
of Westernization in the nineteenth century. At first, they
carried connotations of education and artistic training but
later became the de facto outerwear for women who dressed
in kimono outside the home. Since the mid-twentieth century,
most women wear haori only for formal events.
Both garments include the character kotobuki, meaning
happiness, celebration, or longevity. The haori presents the
character in various styles and colors rendered in the yu ̄zen
dyeing technique, which uses rice-paste as a resist. In the
woven brocade of the obi, the kotobuki character is paired with
other symbols, such as scrolls signifying knowledge, and lucky
mallets said to grant wishes.

Subject matter
The haori was originally part of a man’s formal attire, but in the nineteenth century, female entertainers in Edo (modern Tokyo) adopted it as a cloak for outdoor wear in mild weather. By the end of the century, married women of the upper class adopted black crepe silk haori with family crests (such as that seen here, at the back of the collar) for formal, public occasions. For much of the twentieth century, the haori has been the standard outerwear for a woman who dresses in a kimono outside the home.

Physical Description
Black crepe silk with wax-resist design in several colors, touch of gold paint. White silk damask lining with stenciled (katztome) (?) designs of large, abstract flowers (design of white flowers on red ground)

Primary Object Classification
Costume and Costume Accessories

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
calligraphy (process)
lost-wax process
stencils (tools)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted