Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Kimono - Ise


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Kyoto (made)

  • Date:

    1988 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shimura Fukumi (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plain-weave <i>tsumugi</i> silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Shimura Fukumi, the designer of this kimono, weaves with tsumugi, a type of silk drawn from wild cocoons or the spoiled leftovers of cultivated silk production. Apart from indigo, which she obtains from a specialist supplier, Shimura makes all her dyes from plants grown in her own garden. This kimono is woven with yarns of indigo blue, yellow derived from eulalia, brown from onion skins and green produced by dyeing with eulalia over indigo. The name of the kimono, 'Ise', is inspired by the 10th century Tales of Ise, one of the most famous works of Japanese literature. In 1990 Shimura was awarded the title of Living National Treasure, Japan's highest accolade for those working in the field of traditional crafts.

Physical description

Plain weave silk with plain warp and handspun (tsumugi) weft. The skeins of silk were dyed blue, yellow and brown in advance of weaving using natural plant dyes.

Place of Origin

Kyoto (made)


1988 (made)


Shimura Fukumi (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plain-weave tsumugi silk


Length: 167.5 cm, Width: 138 cm

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1989/895.

Indigo was used for the blue dye, eulalia for yellow and onion skin for brown. Indigo was dyed over the yellow for the green colour. All the plants except indigo, which comes from a specialist supplier, are cultivated by the artist on a plot of land near her house.

This kimono was shown in the 1988 Traditional Crafts Exhibition (Dento Kogeiten), an exhibition to which the artist has contributed regularly since 1957. The title 'Ise' alludes to a scroll painting by the artist Tawaraya Sotatsu (fl. 17th century) characterised by vibrant hues of blue and green.

Historical context note

The tsumugi textiles of Shimura Fukumi (b.1924) speak of traditions of much humbler origins. Tsumugi is a general term for the sturdy plain-weave cloth that peasants throughout Japan used to weave for personal use from silk obtained from wild cocoons or from the spoiled leftovers of cultivated silk production. Designs were executed in the form of stripes, checks or kasuri and the cloth had a distinctively nubbled texture resulting from irregularities in the hand-spun floss silk yarns. Indigo blue was the predominant colour.

Widely recognised as one of Japan's leading textile artists, Shimura Fukumi was appointed a Living National Treasure in January 1990.

Descriptive line

Kimono, titled 'Ise' by Shimura Fukumi, plain weave tsumugi (hand-spun floss) silk, Japan, 1988

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Faulkner, Rupert, Japanese Studio Crafts: Traditiona dn the Avant-Garde, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1995, plate 67
Jackson, Anna, Japanese Country Textiles, London: V&A Publications, 1997, p.119, fig.82


Silk; Indigo


Plain weave


Textiles; Clothing


East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.