This extraordinary kimono length transitions over its forty-five foot span from gray at one end to black at the other, creating a striking diagonal composition. The flawless line of the diagonal and the evenness of the gray color, the result of crossing white warps with black wefts, is a testament to the skill of the dyer and weaver.

The design is created in the kasuri, or warp ikat, technique. White warps were tightly bound in one-inch intervals, with additional warps added in each interval as the binding progressed. Japanese textile designer Junichi Arai, who was inspired by the modernism of a kimono from 1910, said, “I drew the design as if I were cutting a tree with a single stroke of an ax. It may be the longest single kasuri motif ever made.” The abstract pattern allows for many different layouts when cut for a kimono.

Susan Brown is the Associate Curator of Textiles at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

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