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Kimono [Paperback]

Liza Dalby
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2001
The colorful and stylized kimono--the national garment of Japan--expresses not only Japanese aesthetic sensibilities but the soul of Japan as well. In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Liza Dalby, author of the highly acclaimed Geisha and Tale of Murasaki, traces the history of kimono--its uses, aesthetics, and social meanings--to explore Japanese culture. Drawing on a variety of period texts including 17thcentury kimono pattern books, Dalby vividly recreates kimono and those who wore them through the centuries. She discusses the development of the kimono robe from its Chinese origins two thousand years ago to its assimilation as the national dress of Japan. An engaging mix of fashion history and social anthropology, this lively and scholarly book demonstrates in a new way how clothing can illuminate our understanding of culture.

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From Publishers Weekly

Another Eastern fashion innovation is spotlighted by anthropologist Liza Dalby (Geisha) in Kimono: Fashioning Culture. When Dalby spent a year as a geisha in Kyoto in the 1970s, she found that the most difficult part of her work was wearing the kimono. Her experience inspired this exhaustive chronicle of the history and social meanings of the robe. Dalby is particularly concerned with how the confining robe in which women can't, among other things, cross their legs clashed with creeping Westernization in the last century, giving rise to such controversies as the 1920s skirmish over what kind of underwear should properly be worn with the kimono.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Dalby, author of Geisha (Univ. of California Pr., 1983), has written a lively, informative study of the kimono, tracing its evolution throughout Japanese history to its current status as the national dress of Japan. Her book's coverage includes all types of "native" dress, past and present; her unique position as a Western "insider" allows her to demystify the complex social mores connected with wearing the kimono. The work is also notable for reprinting and translating sections from 17th-century pattern books and for its discussion of the Heian (794-1185) color palette. Jill Liddell's The Story of the Kimono (Dutton, 1989) and Alan Kennedy's Japanese Costume: History and Tradition (A. Biro, 1990) cover different aspects of kimono history and textile design. The three books nicely complement one another, providing almost complete coverage of the subject. At once scholarly and enjoyable reading, Kimono is recommended for academic and public libraries with collections on Asian culture.
- Katharine L. Kan, Aiea P.L., Hawaii
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource May 2 2003
Format:Paperback
A comprehensive history of kimono past and present, this book is so full of information that it's hard to summarize. The author covers not only "familiar" - i.e., formal - kimono, but also work clothes, folk clothing, and the modest beauty of stripes and ikat. Illustrations throughout the book are well annotated and informative.
My two favorite chapters are those on kimono in the Heian (9th-11th centuries) and Genroku (1688-1704) periods, with their wealth of history and beauty. The chapter on the Heian era covers, among other things, seasonal color combinations, with color depictions of how the layers would look. The Genroku chapter covers kosode, with commented (black and white) illustrations from pattern books of the time.
For those interested in wearing modern kimono, the chapter "The Structure of Kimono" includes information on several different aspects of what a kimono, obi and their accessories can mean according to how they're worn. For instance, how the V-shape formed by the collar differs according to age, or what an obijime placed slightly lower than usual can signify. It also includes charts on kimono formality (a wonderful resource) and descriptions - as always, accompanied by illustrations - of the different kimono and obi types.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More to the Kimono than meets the eye June 28 2004
Format:Paperback
The kimono is the national dress of Japan and is instantly recognisable as Japanese wherever you see it. However, the kimono that we see today is essentially the end of a long evolution of dress over a thousand years and what is worn now is essentially a fossilised costume.
This book gives you an illuminating look at the history of the kimono in Japan - how even the word "kimono" didn't exist before last century, when the Japanese became aware that there were "other" forms of dress. We are also given insights into the dress of the lower class and rural people of Japan. They are often forgotten in kimono discussion, yet they developed a dress style that was both practical and indigenous, though it is dying in the modern age. There is even an extensive section devoted to the aristocratic 10th century kimono styles and colour combinations.
Lastly this book gives you insight into how the modern kimono is worn. There is a wealth of meaning in dress design and how it is worn that mostly passes non-Japanese by and for a kimono to be worn with style requires a lot of social knowledge that not many other books will spell out for you like this.
This book is highly recommended if you have an interest in Japanese costume, history or fabrics. It gives a fascinating account of how dress mirrors history and social changes. However, if you are looking for lots of colour photos of kimono and their designs this book will probably disappoint you as all the illustrations are in black and white.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars thank you for your heartful letter July 30 2010
By shiruko
Format:Paperback
they gave this book with a short letter to me. actually, this book is a used one but quite nice. also they look nice people.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
75 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful suprise July 3 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
... The ... suprise was the book itself. I have to be honest I bought it because Liza Dalby wrote the introduction and because Arthur Golden was quoted saying it was a good book. Having read the books by Liza Dalby and Arthur Golden I wanted to see some pictures of kimono and geisha that were more than just snapshots. And that's exactly what this book does, it gives you 120 beautiful pictures and a lot of information. A wonderful suprise.
The book is neatly divided into sections: - The use of kimono in festivals, - Kimono you see in the street, - Tradition in its manufacture (weaving,spinning, dyeing), - The commercial side of kimono (fitting, kimono shops), - Maiko and Geisha (including some wonderful pictures made at the Nyokoba Geisha Training school on Kyoto), - Men wearing kimono (storytellers, sumo referees, tea ushers, monks) - Kabuki (this is my favorite. You see a kabuki player getting dressed for a female role) - Work (the kimono as a uniform) - Footwear (an interesting detail) Apart from the beautiful pictures this book has an informative introduction by Liza Dalby and with each picture you get a caption that gives you some little piece of insight that changes the way you look at the picture. Having been to Japan this book to me is a souvenir of some of the things I've seen, the people wearing kimono in the street, the festivals. But it also showed me some things I could never see (the behind the stage kabuki pictures and the manufacturing of the kimono). If you have been to Japan you too will recognize some of these pictures. If you have not been to Japan this book gives you a great impression of what to expect (kimono wise that is). Last but not least the book has a beautiful design, it's a great coffee table book.
52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource May 2 2003
By Anna M. Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A comprehensive history of kimono past and present, this book is so full of information that it's hard to summarize. The author covers not only "familiar" - i.e., formal - kimono, but also work clothes, folk clothing, and the modest beauty of stripes and ikat. Illustrations throughout the book are well annotated and informative.
My two favorite chapters are those on kimono in the Heian (9th-11th centuries) and Genroku (1688-1704) periods, with their wealth of history and beauty. The chapter on the Heian era covers, among other things, seasonal color combinations, with color depictions of how the layers would look. The Genroku chapter covers kosode, with commented (black and white) illustrations from pattern books of the time.
For those interested in wearing modern kimono, the chapter "The Structure of Kimono" includes information on several different aspects of what a kimono, obi and their accessories can mean according to how they're worn. For instance, how the V-shape formed by the collar differs according to age, or what an obijime placed slightly lower than usual can signify. It also includes charts on kimono formality (a wonderful resource) and descriptions - as always, accompanied by illustrations - of the different kimono and obi types.
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More to the Kimono than meets the eye June 28 2004
By K. Maxwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The kimono is the national dress of Japan and is instantly recognisable as Japanese wherever you see it. However, the kimono that we see today is essentially the end of a long evolution of dress over a thousand years and what is worn now is essentially a fossilised costume.
This book gives you an illuminating look at the history of the kimono in Japan - how even the word "kimono" didn't exist before last century, when the Japanese became aware that there were "other" forms of dress. We are also given insights into the dress of the lower class and rural people of Japan. They are often forgotten in kimono discussion, yet they developed a dress style that was both practical and indigenous, though it is dying in the modern age. There is even an extensive section devoted to the aristocratic 10th century kimono styles and colour combinations.
Lastly this book gives you insight into how the modern kimono is worn. There is a wealth of meaning in dress design and how it is worn that mostly passes non-Japanese by and for a kimono to be worn with style requires a lot of social knowledge that not many other books will spell out for you like this.
This book is highly recommended if you have an interest in Japanese costume, history or fabrics. It gives a fascinating account of how dress mirrors history and social changes. However, if you are looking for lots of colour photos of kimono and their designs this book will probably disappoint you as all the illustrations are in black and white.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book on the History of Kimono March 21 2006
By C - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a very good guide to the history of the kimono and its importance in Japanese society. Perhaps its only fault is that it doesn't have a huge amount of pictures and those pictures that it does have are largely in black and white.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book based on fine research July 22 2008
By Paul Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an essential book, I think, for clothing designers, people who like Japanese style, and fabric makers -- as well as others.
Dalby's knowledge of Japan and women's kimono fashion is based on personal knowledge in the culture, including a stint as an "American geisha" in Japan and all the kimono wearing that involved. She also did terrific book research.
One of the intriguing parts of the book is the revelation of the fashion art of woodblock print (ukiyo-e) artists. The book becomes a double pleasure of fashion AND art.
Her prose explains kimono to you with ease, and it reads like tips from a favorite friend. Even for a man who never expects to wear a yukata again, I enjoyed it tremendously.
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