1871 Meiji Era Kaku Obi with English Text - Cylinder Shaped Object in Sageo Next to Tanto

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Chatter - Anything and everything' started by jaded, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. jaded

    jaded Registered Guest


    I have a 1871 image of a 14 1/2 Japanese boy in traditional costume with tango sword whose father was a minor samurai. The image was taken: (a) just before he left Japan or (b) after he arrived in the U.S. and before he switched to Western clothing. He arrived by steamer paddlewheel in 1871 in California. Traveled by train to New England and was educated in and around Boston until 1874. He was among a select group of students to travel to the U.S. to be educated in Western technology.

    Upon enlarging the 2 1/4" wide image many times and applying various temporary Photoshop filters to bring details out on some places I found two mysteries.

    The Kaku obi appears to have text on it. It appears to a Asian inspired Latin text in a similar style to the
    Mandarin font created by Cleveland Type Foundry in 1883. Its not the same font but clearly someone was trying to what is now known as Wanton font. That is problem as the later 1883 Mandarin font is suppose to be the grandfather of these fonts.


    In the cropped portion of the original image I've uploaded one of the rear obi wraps around the subject's waist is shown in the background. The foremost obi wrap is bulged forward as it passes over a tango sword housed in a scabbard (most of which is tucked inside the clothing).

    A tanto sword is attached via a octopus style sageo. Embedded within the upper wrapped portion of the sageo is a mystery cylinder shaped object with the name plate facing forward. It has a different Asian inspired Latin alphabet font. It is held in the sageo at a slight downward angle from being exactly perpendicular to the scabbard. I suspect the name plate might be the cap portion of the cylinder shaped object with something inside.

    Were vintage obi ever produced with text? If so, how about English text? Could it be for a special occasion or a award?

    What is the cylinder shaped object bound within the sageo?

    Were these fonts created in Japan in response to the recent opening of Japan in 1854 and placed on traditional Japanese objects as a fad. Were the cylinder shaped object and obi instead imported? Perhaps they were picked up as tourist items in the U.S. although I think the picture was likely taken back in Japan and not the U.S.?


    kaku obi:
    • 角帯, "stiff obi") is another obi used by men. A formal kaku obi is about 10 centimetres (3.9 in) wide and 400 centimetres (13 ft) long[16] and depending on its material, colours and pattern is suited to any and all occasions from everyday wear to a close relative's funeral. A kaku obi typically is made of hakata ori (and thus a Hakata obi, which has length-wise stripes[16]), or from silk pongee, silk gauze, silk damask.[27] It is worn in the simple kai-no-kuchi knot.
    Larger Image:

  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    An overall pic would help because I don't see text - perhaps just a Ikat weave?
  3. jaded

    jaded Registered Guest

    Here is a portion of the image in its current sepia toned state. The entire image is only 2 1/4".

    Here we see:

    • part of the hoari (jacket)
    • a large slice of the upturned hoari collar on the left which appears to have a flowered pattern
    • kimono (robe) collars
    • a small chain exiting the kimono and going underneath the haori - likely for a pocket watch - it is washed out due to its high gloss surface, but PS filters clearly show chain links
    • haori-himo (jacket clasp) with metal S-hooks
    • upper portion of the hakama (pants) and front hakama-himo (ties for pants)
    • kaku obi (long men's tie for kimono)
    • large octopus style sageo (sword scabbard tie down)
    • tanto style sword hilt and upper part of scabbard - there is a unidentified band of script on the fuchi, most of which has been washed out due to the high gloss surface of the metal
    Larger image Link:


    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018 at 7:51 PM
  4. lindapoirier

    lindapoirier Registered Guest


    Ask Yoko or anyone at Ichiroya

Share This Page