Friday, January 22, 2010
Great Moments in Fabric Literature, Vol XII
This kimono belonging to the geisha Mameha - whom I'd never heard of at the time - was a work of art. Weaving its way from the hem up to the waist was a beautiful vine made of heavily lacquered threads bunched together like a tiny cable and sewn into place. It was a part of the fabric, yet seemed so much like an actual vine growing there. I had the feeling that I could take it in my fingers, if I wished, and tear it away like a weed from the soil. The leaves curling from it seemed to be fading and drying in the autumn weather, and even taking on tints of yellow.
Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha, 1997
This may be one of the saddest books I have re-read in a while. The heroine was sold into servitude at age nine. The descriptions of life in Japan are very vivid, but as I read I thought about how many women all over the world are still sold into slavery. An excellent book on this subject is Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky.
I have a small collection of kimono and haori. They are all handmade, and subtly beautiful. I can't wear any of them, though - the original wearers were much more petite than I am. I have a couple hanging as art in my living room, and they are a feast for the eyes. When we were in Kyoto we did see a few women in traditional garb walking on the street. The people there mostly wear western dress for daily wear, but I have read that kimono are still worn for special occasions.