Tag Archive | Clothing

More on Kato no Kesa

detail_kato_no_kesa_from_honen_shonin_eden_3
Detail from the Honen Shonin Eden (Life of the Monk Honen) emaki scroll (around 1307), showing monks wearing kato no kesa.

From a question on the Tousando Board about kato no kesa (someone had directed the questioner to my earlier post on the subject):

Yes, from what I have been able to figure out, kato no kesa are literally kesa worn on the head. The sōhei wore their kesa on their heads rather than on the torso as usual (perhaps for freedom of movement? or disguise?). So yes, as a shortcut you could just use a rectangular cloth tied around your head, but properly, those were kesa, which are sewn in a particular way. Most commonly, the “rice-paddy” pattern is used.

Gojokesa 五条袈裟 or Gojo no kesa 五条の袈裟 is also a term for this garment. From the dictionary definition, it was called that because of it was stitched together from five wide cloths (probably referring to the rice paddy design, which is usually done in five rows, but can be seven or nine, depending on the cloth used and the size of the wearer.

I found a cite for why they used discarded cloth:

“It is difficult to determine what is good and what is evil. Laymen say it is good to wear luxurious silks, embroidered garments, and brocades; and bad to
wear tattered and discarded rags. But in Buddhism it is the opposite: tattered robes are good and pure, richly embroidered garments are evil and soiled. The same applies to all other things as well.

The Madhyam-agama-sutra states, “Virtuous men! Suppose that someone acts purely but speaks and things impurely. If a wise man sees this and becomes angry, it is necessary for him to eliminate his anger. Suppose again that someone acts impurely
but speaks and thinks purely. If a wise man sees this and becomes angry, it is necessary for him to eliminate his anger. How can he do this? Virtuous men! He can do so by following in the footsteps of a solitary monk who picks up discarded cloth to make himself a pãmsula. Like the monk, if he finds the cloth soiled with excreta, urine, nasal mucus or anything else impure, he should pick it up with his left hand
and, stretching it out with his right hand, tear off the unsoiled and holeless parts.”

Yuho Yokoi. Zen Master Dogen (NY, Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1976)pp. 104-105.

As for wearing kesa on the head, it may also have been part of a religious ritual:

“Do-gen Zenji, at the age of twenty-five, was at Tien-tung-shan in China, doing zazen with many monks, when at the end of morning zazen he saw that a monk who sat
next to him held up the okesa with both hands, put it on his head, and with gassho
recited the verse of the okesa:

Great robe of liberation!
Virtuous field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tathagata’s teaching
We vow to save all beings.

After the monk chanted this verse three times he put on the okesa. Do-gen Zenji had
never seen this great practice before; he was deeply impressed and even shed tears
from a mingled feeling of joy and sorrow.

He talks about this in the last part of the “Kesakudoku,” saying that his robe’s collar was wet from the tears.

“When I was in Japan I read the Ãgama-sutras and found the verse of the kesa; I also found that before one puts on the kesa they should put it on their head. I had not known when and how it correctly was to be done as I had asked my master and friends
but none of them knew. I felt very sorrowful that such a long span of time had passed wastefully without knowing how to handle a kesa in spite of having been at
Hieizan for three years and at Kenninji for nine years. Now, I fortunately could
see and hear with my own eyes and ears the manner in which to wear the kesa
due to good deeds accumulated in previous existences. I was grateful and thankful.
If I had stayed in Japan, I would not have had a chance to see this great
scene. I took pity upon the people in my country because they could not see it”

Eihei Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo – “Kesakudoku” (The
Merit of Kas´ãya); Shobogenzo -“Den-ne” (The transmission of
the Robe), trans. Yuho Yokoi with Daizen, Victoria.(Weatherhill, 1976).

The Dogen Zenji mentioned is the monk Dogen (1200-1253), founder of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism.

What I’m trying to research now is how the construction of the kesa may have changed over time. There are instructions online in English for making kesa (some quite extensive), but as they are concerned with modern religious Buddhist practice, they don’t really go into how the kesa might have evolved. We know that not all kesa were made from toilet rags–some extant pieces are quite fine, and may have been made with donated brocade. These are often seen being worn by wealthy lay-people. Both monks and lay-people (who had taken partial vows) were encouraged to wear kesa as a sign of devotion.

I dunno, just scratched the surface on what is a very rich tradition. It should go without saying–if you want to wear kato no kesa as part of your persona, please remember that it is still part of an ongoing religious tradition, and treat the garment with respect.

Calontir Clothiers Symposium 2017

muromachi_kosode

Today was the Calontir Clothiers Symposium, which is held by my local Shire, Cum an Iolair. Since it is our local event, I spent much of the day working, mostly at my usual post at Gate. I did sit in on one class in the afternoon, but that was because I was helping with the next class and teaching a third class after that, so I needed to find out what this class covered so that I could adjust my materials accordingly.

Every year at Lilies War, there is a “Tailoring Tent” where volunteers sew like mad to finish a set of outfits for the King and Queen. The theme this year is Japanese, and so I of course am helping out.

The class I helped out with was a panel about 16th century decoration motifs. Since I was just sitting on the panel, I did not do a handout for this class, but I did try to steer conversation around information that I found about kosode history from this website here, which has an excellent overview of the kosode and its evolution. I brought a large number of books and magazines that I own so people could look through them and get ideas.

My own class was called “Kosode Construction: Stitches, Tips, and Tricks.” I was under the impression someone else was doing a class on kosode patterning, so the focus of my class was on the areas that gave me problems when I was first learning to sew kosode. Here is the handout I made. It just touches on the topics I covered, but I tried to include links to online tutorials or videos that might be helpful.

Truth be told, I’m always horribly nervous when teaching, but my students seemed to really enjoy the class and said they got a lot out of it. I was especially touched by one guy who caught up with me afterwards and thanked me, because he had been nervous about trying to sew his own Japanese garb, but now he thought it was something he could handle. That makes it all worth it.

Went out to dinner with some friends, which was fun, but missed the postrevel as I was absolutely exhausted. It was a fun day.

Front picture “Muromachi Kosode” was taken from the book “The History of Women’s Costume in Japan.” Japanese costume recreated in Kyoto during the 1930’s. (Scanned by Lumikettu of Flickr). I do own my own copy of this book as well.

Pre-Edo Sashiko?

This is part of a thread on the SCA Japanese FB page. The original question was whether shibori or sashiko could be pre-Edo period. Shibori certainly was, although called by another name. I’ll do a separate post about that later, since shibori is an area I’m just starting to learn about.

However, I’ve been looking into sashiko. The problem documenting it is that it was a technique used by the poor, and the extant pre-1600 garments that exist are from the upper-class. What we do have is some examples of kesa (the surplice-like garment worn by Japanese Buddhist clergy), which were pieced. That technique existed. Most period paintings/drawings do not have a lot of detail on the poor. Some emaki have depictions of poor people, mainly in line drawings.

So with this lack of resources, you have to look into literature–for example, in a choka poem in the Man’yoshu by Yamanoue no Okura (660?-733?), a destitute man complains of wearing nothing but rags, “a sleeveless jacket not even stuffed with [cotton]” <–translation Steven Carter–I'd need to dig into the text to see the exact wording. While most poetry after Man'yoshu avoided the subject of poverty (until the 17th century poets revisited the subject), there are plenty of tales and writings that have some small bits of description. Padded garments require some supportive stitching, or else the padding eventually slips. Through literature, we can establish that garments were patched.

The decorative sashiko (blue on white) is almost certainly Edo-period, though. But using sashiko stitching as a means of insulation–that might be plausible.

Mistress Saionji no Hana (OL, West Kingdom) posted a link to a discussion on the Tousando Board from some years ago, where there was a discussion about an 8th century example of the kind of stitching used in sashiko. I happen to have a copy of the book mentioned, Jodai-Gire: 7th and 8th Century Textiles in Japan from the Shoso-In and Horyu-Ji by Kaneo Matsumoto and yes, there are a few examples of what looks like sashiko-like stitching. For mending purposes, however, not decorative.

This Old Thing

This was going to be a “Help, fashion emergency, should I wear this old thing or my standby Anglo-Norman garb that everyone has already seen this weekend?” but since the Calontir Coronation got pushed back a week due to the impending Ice-pocalypse, I should have time to finish something else, so I’m just posting these because I have so few pictures of myself in Japanese garb.

At my size, I feel a bit self-conscious wearing it. My body type is 100% Hungarian-American Good Peasant Stock–we’ll live during those famines!–and utterly lacks the narrow-shouldered, slim silhouette common to the Japanese. Which is why I like to make and wear garb of various cultures and not just Japanese. I do look better in European styles.

I’m wearing this as a kosode (“small-sleeved” kimono), but it was originally made as an uchikake (worn open over kosode) some 12 years ago. I’ve gain a lot of weight since then, so it doesn’t fit properly. It should be more baggy, actually, with very wide panels. There are some design things I would do differently now because I know better, but this wasn’t bad for an early work. While the Chinese brocade I’m wearing is modern, it’s not too far off from what might be worn–the Japanese DID import Chinese brocade. Besides, this was on sale and affordable.

I am wearing two kosode underneath–it’s cold here. They wore narrow obi (belts) during that time, just below the waistline, similar to how men wear obi now. This one has some interfacing to stiffen it up a bit, but time has softened it and I need to make a new one.

The wimple-like thing is called a zukin (I’ve written a few times about those–this one is a sode-zukin). My short and modern haircut just doesn’t go with medieval garb (of any country) at all, so I always wear some kind of head covering. Fortunately, it was common for upper-class women to take partial Buddhist vows, so you can wear zukin with fancier garments, although they are much more commonly used with lower-class or monastic garb.

01122017_moi_kosode_kawaii_large

On Matawa 真綿

A question was asked on the SCA Japanese Facebook page: “Padded Uchigi. Is this just, like, quilted? fluffy? Essentially really thick interfacing? I assume they used silk, but I can’t envision what the final product looks like.”

My answer:

真綿 (mawata) is low-quality silk, nowadays mostly used for making handkerchiefs, but was used for padding on winter garments. This page shows what it looks like: http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/html/mulberry_silk.html

“Was it just stuffed in or how did it stay in place?”

John Marshall actually has a chapter about it in his _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_, where he discusses the traditional method and then a more modern method better suited towards modern washing using easier to find material (since his book IS about modern clothes). Mawata is sticky, so you basically layer it in place. This webpage shows the process for silk handkerchiefs–it is just on a larger scale for garments. http://www.wormspit.com/mawatas.htm

Marshall, John. Make Your Own Japanese Clothes (Tokyo; Kodansha International, 2013 reprint) 978-1568364933. Originally printed in 1988, ISBN 087011865X.

Yamabushi and Sōhei Headwear

This is from the SCA Japanese Facebook community–I was answering a question regarding yamabushi and their headwear. The original question was whether yamabushi would wear the same kind of cowl that sōhei wore into battle, and also if anyone could recommend books/sources on the subject of yamabushi.

[A quick definition: yamabushi 山伏 were/are mountain ascetics, usually solitary monks who adhered to Shugendō, esoteric Buddhism which mostly descends from the Shingon sect, but had other influences as well, including Tendai Buddhism, Shinto, and Daoism. Sōhei 僧兵 were warrior monks that were usually attached to a monastery. Yamabushi would sometimes fight, but they were mostly loners and fought in loose confederations, whereas sōhei were groups attached to monasteries.]

The Teeth and Claws of Buddha by Mikael S. Adolphson is the most thorough book I’ve found on the subject of warrior monks. Osprey has done two books on them, one on the Yamabushi and one on the monasteries. Interesting general reading, but start with Adolphson’s book if you want to go deeper into the subject.

What the sōhei wore on their heads was called kato no kesa 裏頭(か[くわ]とう)の袈裟(けさ), and they were kesa (usually worn on the chest) worn on the head–that is technically what kato no kesa means. The yamabushi would sometimes wear kato no kesa, but the headdress more identified with them is the tokin 頭襟, which looks kinda like a small black box. The Japanese Costume museum has it larger and covering the head, but I’ve seen pictures of it being smaller and worn near the forehead, as it is today. Here is a site that has some description of yamabushi clothing. It starts with doctrine, scroll down to see the parts about clothing.

As to whether a tokin would be worn in battle, I am not sure. The emaki depictions that I’ve seen of yamabushi have often just been of them traveling, and they did wear the tokin at those times.

Here’s a picture of a yamabushi from the Japanese Costume museum. Note the hat:

yamabushi_jp_costume_museum
from the Japanese Costume Museum

Now compare to this modern Yamabushi–these are the small tokin I’ve seen in emaki scrolls:

>yamabushi_tokin
from the now-defunct homepage of Kannonji Temple, Shiga Prefecture. Photographer unknown.

And this is an example of the kato no kesa that sōhei wore:

Benkei
From the Taiga Drama, Yoshitsune, scanned by me.

Update and Correction: when questioned by HE Master Ii Katsumori regarding the modern Yamabushi (who I first identified as a reenactor), I dug deeper to find the origin of the picture, which had been uploaded to Pinterest. The picture is from a now-defunct Japanese webpage (the company hosting it closed, but the Wayback Machine caught it) here: http://homepage3.nifty.com/huayan/temple/event06.htm. I can’t link directly to the Wayback Machine’s page, but that’s the original (defunct) page. Just plug that in the Wayback Machine to see the text (not pictures) of the original.

This used to be the homepage of Kannonji temple. Some more digging showed that the man in the picture is Professor Yoshida Eirie, a professor of Buddhism at Hanazono University in Kyoto and a priest of Kumano Shugendo. Also a martial-arts master of Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho Ryu. So yes, he IS a modern Yamabushi.

Cornificia Project

I signed up to do an outfit for a project that one of my fellow Calontiri, Cecilia, is doing: she is creating photographic portraits recreating the illuminations in Richard Tessard’s version of Boccaccio’s “The Lives of Famous Women”. You can see the pictures on this Pinterest page. My first two choices were already taken, but I settled on the portrait of Cornificia, who was a 1st century BC Roman poet. The dress is plain compared to some of the others, so I think I can manage it, plus with that pose and the cloak, it won’t matter that I’m so fat.

Boccaccio writes of her that “She was equal in glory to her brother Cornificius, who was a much renowned poet at that time. Not satisfied with excelling in such a splendid art, inspired by the sacred Muses, she rejected the distaff and turned her hands, skilled in the use of the quill, to writing Heliconian verses… With her genius and labor she rose above her sex, and with her splendid work she acquired a perpetual fame.” Her work is lost, but St. Jerome mentions her in his chronicles in 4th century AD, so her work was good enough that it was being read 400 years after her death, and by St. Jerome to boot, who was not an easy man to please.

Here is the picture she will be recreating:

Cornificia

Although color substitutions are being allowed, I think I already have linen in both that blue and the light purple. The tight sleeves look like those of a Gothic fitted dress, but those gathers in front resemble a houppelande? But those tend to have big or hanging sleeves and women mostly wear those belted. This dress is NOT belted. It might be some kind of loose gown?

There’s a similar dress on the Blessed Virgin Mary in The Calvary Triptych by Hugo van der Goes (@1468). Sleeves are a bit different, but the shape of the dress looks similar.

hugo_van_der_goes_1469

Here’s another example by van der Goes from the Monforte alterpiece. He puts the Virgin Mary in this same style of dress consistently.

vandergoes_wijzen_monforte_grt

So anyway, have some research to do. I’m going to try to finish this outfit by December, 2017. I will be making the dress, underdress, veil, and shoes (unseen in picture).