This incredible find was originally owned by one of the lovely students in my sewing class, Kiyoko, who lost her battle with cancer a few months ago (but she lived well into her 80s and had a full life). Her family donated several trash bags full of fabric and fabric scraps to our class, and apparently one her adult children tossed this obi into the bag thinking it was simply a length of fabric!
I practically had to wrestle it away from a fellow student who pulled it out of the bag because she wanted to cut it up to make something new out of it! I kept begging her not to do it, as it should be appreciated in its current form. I must have been really charming that day because she very graciously gave it to me.
Well, my instructor and I contacted the family to see if they wanted to have this precious item back but they said no, as it did not belong to a kimono. Lucky me! I am honored to own Kiyoko's obi as both a beautiful work of art and as a remembrance of a lovely and talented woman.
|Draped over a hanger. It is too long to photograph in its entirety!|
So I've done a little research on my own. The fabric seems to be silk and has been wrapped around a somewhat stiff inner core and hand-sewn along one side. It is patterned on both sides. The size, length, and fabric indicate that it should be the most formal type of obi, a maru obi, but it is not nearly as elaborately patterned and embroidered as a maru obi would be. It is probably a less formal type of obi.
|The ends of the obi|
My best guess is that it is a fukuro obi. There is embroidery on both sides, but it is clear even to my inexpert eyes that this obi is meant to be tied in a specific type of knot because the embroidery is heaviest on one side, in one area. Which knot? I don't know. This is the part that is most embroidered and is meant to be showcased:
Perhaps it is meant to be tied in a taiko musubi, or a drum-like knot. This is one of the most common obi knots worn today. Click here for a series of photos showing one method of tying an obi in a taiko musubi. Complex, isn't it?
It has a few water stains, and what look to be food smudges, so I know this obi has definitely been worn. It's intriguing. One day I will find an expert in order to solve the mystery of this lovely obi.