Propaganda Kimono
Boy’s Omiyamairi  |  Yuzen-dyed, painted, embroidered silk

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Propaganda Kimono

The elegiac poignancy embodied in this beautifully made baby's garment was not apparent to the proud parents who chose it for their son's naming ceremony at the end of 1937. Its theme, Nankin-nyujyo, (Japanese troops entering Nanking triumphantly), was reproduced widely in Japan at the time. Copied directly from news photos and films, it shows General Matsui Iwane entering one of the city's gates on December 13, 1937.

After the fall of Shanghai in the Autumn of 1937, the Japanese set their sights on China's capitol, Nanjing (Nanking). Fighting a coalition of Communist and Nationalist Chinese troops, the city was heavily bombed and finally sacked in early December. Almost immediately after, what is now called "The Nanking Massacre" began. For six weeks Japanese troops raped and murdered between 200,000 - 300,000 Chinese men, women, and children and destroyed one of China's most beautiful cities.

This baby's kimono was likely made in Japan exactly during the time their armies were perpetuating one of the grimmest atrocities of the mid-twentieth century. It is a surprising survivor of a brutal time, purchased at a Japanese flea market in 2009.