Embroidered Dragon Kimono

I don’t know what to do with this frail and rather tatty silk kimono: I wish I did. For a while I hung it from a hanger against the wall where I could admire it, like a picture, until the dust began to settle and accumulate.

The kimono is green silk and embroidered with coloured threads and much golden brocade. Two large dragons with serpent scales take centre place top front and back, a further pair grace the sleeves and four smaller dragons pose above a sea of blue sewn whorls. These are followed by a mass of thick gold thread spirals and then comes a deep border of gold diagonal-stripes which reaches the floor. A contrasting fabric marks out the neck opening collar-like and ends with a frog knot closure fastening below the hip on the right side.

This garment was part of the stage costume collection of Worcester Park Choral Society which my grandparents belonged to in the early 1940’s. When the society disbanded my father chose this piece and for a while it was largely unseen. Then for years it hung in my parent’s wardrobe and had occasional appearances in plays or fancy-dress parties.

As a child I was intrigued by the opulence of the design and fascinated by the symbolism which then, as now, I couldn’t interpret. Now I have become the custodian of this old but splendid kimono. What shall I do with it?