Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Robe (Kosode) with Shells and Sea Grasses

Edo period (1615–1868)
early 17th century
Embroidery and gold leaf on plain-weave silk patterned with warp floats
Overall: 60 1/2 x 49 in. (153.7 x 124.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul T. Nomura, in memory of Mr. and Mrs. S. Morris Nomura, 1992
Accession Number:
Not on view
This sumptuous robe is among the earliest extant kosode (garment with small sleeve openings). The natural scenery of Japan’s coast, with its beaches strewn with shells and sea grass, inspired the delicate embroidered design. The foundation fabric, woven in an intricate key-fret pattern with floral motifs, was likely imported from China in its white, undecorated state. It was then resist dyed to achieve the effect of irregular sandbanks, and the marine motifs were embroidered on top. The alternating bands of light blue were further embellished with gold-leaf accents.
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