Image courtesy of
Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Japanese archipelago is home to extremely diverse cultures that made clothing and other textile objects in a kaleidoscope of materials and designs. This summer, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) showcase the textiles of Japan in an exhibition, Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan.
Image: Unknown Nivkh makers, Woman’s fish-skin festival coats (hukht), late 19th century. Cloth: fish skin, sinew (reindeer), cotton thread; appliqué and embroidery. Promised gift of Thomas Murray
The exhibition will focus on the resourcefulness of humans to create textiles from local materials like fish skin, paper, elm bark, nettle, banana leaf fibre, hemp, wisteria, deerskin, cotton, silk, and wool. On view will be rare and exceptional examples of robes, coats, jackets, vests, banners, rugs, and mats, made between around 1750 and 1930, including the royal dress of subtropical Okinawa, ceremonial robes of the Ainu from northern Japan and the Russian Far East, and folk traditions from throughout Japan.
Ainu people, "Red, blue, and white kaparamip robe," late 19th century. Cloth: cotton; cotton appliqué and embroidery. The John R. Van Derlip Fund and the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation; purchase from the Thomas Murray Collection
Banana leaves, elk bark, nettle fibre and fish skin are just some of the materials used in making an extraordinary collection of garments. Robes made of fish skin and reindeer sinew meant to be worn over many layers to ward off the cold weather, featuring extraordinary embroidery and simple stripes of colour.
The exhibition features textiles and clothing worn in Japan from 1750 to 1930, with much of the focus on folk traditions as well as grander pieces worn by the aristocracy. A large chunk of the over 120 works were acquired since 2019 from a donation by Thomas Murray, a collector of Asian art.
Now open, until 11 September 2022. For more information, visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art.