‘Kanzemizu’ (flowing spiral water) pattern was widely used on Katagami during the Edo period (1780-1867). It represents the pattern of water rippling and swirling as well as the curves of a whirlpool. In Japan water has long been appreciated as a cleanser in various situations. The "Kanzemizu" pattern has been adapted in traditional kimono patterns of Noh theatre from the 14th century onwards.
During the Edo period (1780-1867), the Kanzemizu pattern also started to be worn by Kabuki actors and Oiran geisha and it was one of the stylish attires of the Edo area. After that it became fashionable and spread to Edo townspeople. They bought second-hand Kanzemizu patterned kimono being sold on the stalls under the eaves of temples and wore them after repairing them. Kanzemizu pattern was worn throughout the year regardless of season, but being a motif indicating coolness, a lot were produced for spring and summer. This pattern was often also applied to porcelain and pottery. During the Meiji era (1868-1911), Kanzemizu (flowing spiral water) pattern was combined with 'Nejiri' pattern (in k1.5), adding an attractive quirky impression to kimono.
This is one of around 400 Japanese katagami stencils which are part of the Silver Studio Collection. The stencils were produced in Japan as a way of applying patterns to fabric, mainly kimonos. The katagami collected by the Silver Studio were used by their designers as reference material to produce their own Japanese-inspired patterns.