Anatomy of a Vintage Tsuke Obi

A week ago I won a rather interesting kimono lot off eBay. In addition to the kasane set, haori and misc komono was an obi. I couldn’t see the photos very clearly in the auctions – but it looked interesting. The auction photos: photo one & photo two

I received the lot last Thursday, and wow! Everything was gorgeous – the photos did absolutely no justice. However, this post today is about just the obi.

The obi did turn out to be a tsuke obi – but it is a tsuke obi in the easiest way possible! I thought it was really quite ingenious. I also estimate the date to be in the later half of the Greater Taisho Era – as judging by vintage photos this “flat and triangular” version of otaiko musubi seemed popular then. Also the art style reminds me of my Taisho obiage.

I very carefully pressed the obi this morning and took photographs to share with you ladies in case anyone wants to try this style. I think it would be an interesting method to try if you were limited on the amount of fabric you had to work with.

For kitsuke history buffs, I thought you might find it just plain ol’ interesting! If you want to see photos of it being worn – : Click Here
The obi full spread:
taisho_tsuke_obi_01.jpg

The back of the obi:
taisho_tsuke_obi_02.jpg

Notice how angled the bottom of the taiko and tare is? They were both stitched very carefully to achieve this look. Here are a few photos showing more detail:

photo of the obi against a turquoise towel to see the angles better.

Close up of the angled corner.

Close up showing some of the stitching.

Close up of the back of the obi showing how the corner was stitched.

The front of the obi:
taisho_tsuke_obi_07.jpg
Notice it is layered in the criss-cross style! This is a style I see very often Greater Taisho Era photographs (and done with much larger exaggeration in Edo and Meiji). We normally associate it with geisha these days, but regular women used to wear their obi like this, also.

Close up of the layers

The underbelly of the obi:
taisho_tsuke_obi_09.jpg

This is where all the trickery is hidden!

The “backside” of the front part of the obi:
taisho_tsuke_obi_10.jpg

The double front layers are faked! There are two long strips about an inch wide – one sewn on the top, and one on the bottom – this gives the illusion of two layers.

Close up showing the stripe sewn on an angle.

Close up showing both the front and reverse side of the overlay.

The obi clip:
taisho_tsuke_obi_14.jpg

It looks tortoise shell – but it is plastic. As you can see – it is stitched very firmly to the obi. Has anyone ever seen one of these before? I’ve tried, but I cannot locate any information or approximate dates for when this would have been manufactured.

You can see it has a clip of sorts which is hinged. I’d imagine you would slide this down in between your date-jime and kimono.

Inside the “drum” part of the obi – you can see the stitching that attaches the tool to the obi.

Close up of under the clip: “Patented Naniwa Obi”.

The top folds of the obi:
taisho_tsuke_obi_17.jpg
You can see the folds made and stitched in place to make the shape.

The obi makura:
taisho_tsuke_obi_19.jpg
The obi makura is actually stitched permanently inside this area. The makura is the same shape as the ones on this page. It sits very flat on the back and the overall feel of the obi is one that clings to the body rather than pillowing out.

Newspaper stiffener inside the Te:
taisho_tsuke_obi_20.jpg
I was really quite surprised to see newspaper inside the the as a stiffener.

Obijime attached to obi
taisho_tsuke_obi_21.jpg

The obijime was actually cut, and sewn to the obi on the te, but hidden by the taiko layer.

Taiko Layers
taisho_tsuke_obi_23.jpg

The taiko looks double layered, right?

WRONG! Fake layers, again!

FAKE Taiko Layers!
taisho_tsuke_obi_24.jpg

I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos and find them useful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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