Traditional clothing of the Edo period,
(1600-1868), included the kimono and obi as we know them today. The obi
did not, however, become a prominent part of a woman's ensemble until the
mid Edo period. It was then that designers, weavers and dyers all focused
their talent on creating a longer, wider and more elaborate obi. Obi
measurement was then standardised to 360cm long by 30cm wide.
Edo fashion was influenced by the design and style that courtesans and
entertainers wear. Women of the samurai class continued to wear the
simpler kosode kimono, tied together with an obi made of braided cords.
Outside the samurai class, women experimented with a more elaborate
- the furisode, which is often seen on
the Kabuki stage. Characterised by long, flowing sleeves, the
furisode kimono was accented by a large,
loosely tied obi.
For many years, the obi bow was tied either at the front or on the side.
By the mid-Edo period, the obi bow was tied in the back position. It was
said that this style started in the mid-1700s when a Kabuki actor,
imitating a young girl, came on stage with his obi tied in the back.
Another reason that the back position became more acceptable was that the
sheer bulk of the wider obi became too cumbersome to be positioned in the
front of the kimono.
The Meiji era, (1868-1912) witnessed a revolution in the textile industry
with the advent of electric weaving looms and chemical dying techniques
from the West. During this time, a woman's kimono ceased to be worn in the
free-flowing style of the earlier days. The new fashion was to tuck the
kimono at the waist to adjust the length of the
kimono to the woman's
height. These tucks and folds were visible and became part of the art of
tying the obi.
Introduction to Obi
Obi Weaves, Dyes & Stitches
Types of Obi
Gift Ideas - Modern uses for