Minnich, Helen Benton
Japanese Costume and the Makers of Its Elegant Tradition



Japanese Costume and the Makers of Its Elegant Tradition

Helen Benton Minnich in collaboration with Shojiro Nomura

“The picture I would like to paint is not just the history but the panoramic human background against which that history is traced… My desire is to pass on to other Wernerers a warmer understanding and appreciation of the history of the Japanese people as it has been woven and dyed in the bright silken fabrics that they have always produced so superlatively and worn so handsomely—and loved so well.”

In these words from her introductory chapter, the author of this unusual and splendidly illustrated book invites the reader to explore the world of Japan’s textile arts and costume decoration—from its origins in legendary times, through its brilliant development in the intervening centuries, to its emergence into the modern era. The book, which is the first in English to present the full sweep of Japanese achievement in the costume arts, is essentially the story of the kimono and its evolution, for (again in the words of the author) “it is hard to think of any other costume which has so challenged the creative artist, or of any nation where the artist has responded so sensitively.”

The presentation of this colorful record is accompanied by a generous selection of illustrations: 53 plates in full colour, 119 in black and white, and 12 line drawings. Taken together, these constitute nothing less than a pageant of Japanese costume history, for they include not only pictures from contemporary sources—such as the picture scrolls and the woodblock prints—but also photographs of kimono masterpieces and representative textiles.

In a word, the book is a story—a true story but not a textbook or simply a costume manual or merely a book about clothes. It is, rather, a book about the people who made the clothes and wore them, and who created the elegant tradition that distinguishes this aspect of Japanese culture. At the same time, it is a book in which the specialist in costume design and decoration—and no less the student of these arts—will find an abundance of informative detail and undoubtedly a valuable source of inspiration.

Japanese Costume and the Makers of Its Elegant Tradition, Helen Benton Minnich, Charles E. Tuttle, 1963

Hardcover. White and black printed cloth binding. Dust jacket ripped at the bottom. Good condition.