This month I am writing short descriptions of over 100 Japanese kimono made between 1900-1960 for an art gallery in Switzerland.  It has been fun learning about new images and world history.  Below is the description for the Sputnik themed boys kimono in photo.

The USSR launching Sputnik into orbit changed the world October 4, 1957.  Sputnik took 98 minutes to orbit the earth and stayed in orbit until January 4, 1958 when it fell back to earth.  The designs, especially of the dog, captured the imagination and attention of people around the world.  It is the theme for this boy printed cotton kimono.  The visual white space between each boxed square motif is visually powerful.  Some motifs spill over onto the next square.

 There are several hundred natural satellites or moons, in our solar system.  Thousands of artificial ones now too, since 1957.  Sputnik was the first.

 There were three Sputnik’s, the last in 1960, and the five pointed stars, one to three could reference that.  I don’t understand the star motif, that is why the date cannot be specific.

 The pattern of dog, ‘Laika’, was a mutt and selected out of many and finally down to three dogs.  After weeks more training, this was dog selected.  His trainer took him home to sleep with him the night before the launch.  Laika was the first living creature to orbit Earth.  He captured the hearts of the people since it was a suicide mission for him, (he was sent with one meal and limited water), and according to instruments survived the take off and lived only a short time after because of the heat in the capsule. He lives to this day in videos, books, poems, museum exhibitions and oral traditions.

 Sputnik, the pattern, resembles a big ball with long whiskers on one side.

 Another pattern on this kimono is a postage stamp, a globe with circles, issued by USSR in1957 as propaganda to highlight the competition between the USA.

The pattern of a white rocket ship, (with pointed hat) was the first time an artificial satellite was featured on a Italian postage stamp, issued Sept 7, & 20, 1956 by the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) hosted in Rome.  This is a motif announcing Japan enters Modern World, with advances acknowledged.  Japanese textile designs are the leaders of this skill of visually representing the world around them.