Japanese Fashion Designs - Part III


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June 10, 2010

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The first time Japan appeared in written records was in AD 57 with the following mention in China's Book of the Later Han: "Across the ocean from Lelang are the people of Wa. Formed from more than one hundred tribes, they come and pay tribute frequently."

The Sanguo Zhi is the official and authoritative historical text on the period of Three Kingdoms covering from 189 to 280, it was written by Chen Shou in the 3rd century. Talking about the lands of current Japan it noted that the country was the unification of some 30 small tribes or states ruled since 188 by a shaman queen whose name was Himiko of Yamataikoku. In 248 she died.

Referred to clothing fashion designs, there is Japanese archaeological evidence surmising that Himiko probably wore a kan-style re-osode (wide-sleeved garment), taishikando-like striped-textile over-kosode (narrow-sleeved garment) of ashiginu, a striped shizuri belt at her waist, mo (skirt) with a diamond-pattern, ramie with patterns dyed with red mud, and a sash with a continuous triangular pattern (Uroko-pattern) which revealed her status. Her hair would have been bundled on her head and topped with a gold-plated copper crown. She also wore shoes, earrings, and a bead necklace with tiny bells, all gold-plated.

Following the Yayoi period is the Kofun Period, which takes its name from the large mound tombs (kofun) that characterize and define it. This period sees the full development of the early Japanese state. It is a time of close contacts with the continent, especially with the Korean kingdoms.

In one sense, this period marks the end of Japanese prehistory (it lacks any significant contemporary written records), but in another sense, it is the beginning of Japanese history ( there are many records compiled just after the period closed, and these records are based on older, contemporary documents that were destroyed or on oral histories still circulating at that time). It is considered the Japan's protohistoric period. The Kofun period and the subsequent Asuka period which started at the end of the 6th century and lasted about 100 years, are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period.

Yamato clothing fashion consisted of two pieces, an upper and lower piece. The upper piece had tight sleeves. During this period the art of raising silk worms was introduced in Japan by Chinese settlers. As they had no skills or techniques for dyeing clothes, the silk fabric remained white.

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