Kimono: elucidating meanings of Japanese textile artifacts for a museum audience
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The objective of this research was to create museum texts and educational materials for a textiles section of a major year-long university museum exhibit focused on exploring Japanese culture and aesthetics through works of fine and applied art. Little background information about the textiles was available. A sample of historical Japanese kimono, yukata, and obi in a university collection was examined using material culture and semiotics research methods. The motifs present in the textiles were identified and explored for how the motifs represent values relevant to Japanese cultural practices throughout time. In particular, motifs were analyzed for their noted conveyance of a society’s religious and cultural values. Motifs were predominantly botanical, emphasizing the respect for nature within Japanese culture. Other motif categories present included geometric, animals/insects, cultural/everyday objects, and landscape motifs. 104 individual motifs were identified. Symbolic meanings were examined and interpreted alongside present materials, colors, and techniques. The use of material culture and semiotics research methods for analyzing Japanese textiles is mapped in this study.
This article is published as Luu, S., & McKinney, E. (2021). Kimono: elucidating meanings of Japanese textile artifacts for a museum audience. Anais Do Museu Paulista: História E Cultura Material, 29;45. doi:10.1590/1982-02672021v29e9.