When one hears the word "obi", we of course think of the wide sashes
worn around kimono (by both men and women). Obi
literally means "belt", in Japanese. Artistically, the obi concept
is applied in many art and design forms. Obi, when applies to temari,
a design worked around the mid-line, or equator, of a temari, that
circumscribes the mari. The photo at right shows a typical obi design on
a kiku-patterned temari; obi
(the yellow and green wrapped band around the equator), with
(copper zi-zag stitching) accenting it and holding it in
However, just because a
design is centered around the middle of a temari, it does not always
mean it can be called an obi. There is a definite perspective that
guides the width of an obi - on anything, including kimono. Consider any
example of traditional Japanese kimono, and look at the width of the obi
in perspective to the length of the kimono as it's worn on the person
(virtually all kimono are made alike in terms of size and length...
length actually is adjusted to the person by folding excess and securing
it in place with obi and related garments). The obi doesn't exceed about
one-third of the height/ kimono length of the wearer. They may be
narrower, but even in the most extreme examples of the obi on kimono of
the Maiko in Kyoto (the most intricate and traditional kimono dress in
Japan, still used today for first year Geisha in training), the width of
the obi is one-third of the body length from ankle to shoulder.
The use of obi design has of
course, long carried over into the application of "middle" or obi
designs on other many articles - be they functional or decorative, in
almost limitless applications and art forms. Applying this to temari, we
can be guided for an equator design - that is, the design stitched
around the middle of the mari, whether it's the main focus,
embellishment, or part of the overall total temari. To be considered an
obi, the maximum width of the obi design is one-third of the distance
from top to bottom (north to south pole). To define this a bit further,
the maximum width for an obi design would be 1/3 of the distance from
north to south pole. (1/3 of 1/2 circumference).
This is not to say that wider
designs, centered around the equator, are "not allowed" or there is
something "wrong" with them - nothing of the sort!! Wide designs are
just that - wide (or tall/long) designs that circumscribe the mari,
anchored around the equator. They can be and are effective and stunning.
Wider designs would just not considered to be in artistic perspective to
be called an obi, once they "overgrow" that 1/3 perspective.
This is an example of a stitched, rather than wrapped, obi.
Another stitched obi, approaching the 1/3 of 1/2 the
While Yubinuki designs are thought to
be obi designs, this one is too wide
This is not an obi since it does not
circumscribe the mari
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