Written on September 16, 2008
This is a katazome yogi that was shown in a long shot in yesterday’s post. I wanted to show it up-close as I think it deserves a bit more of a serious look: it is indigo dyed cotton, probably dates from the first half of the twentieth century and the central mon, or family crest, is of the crossed feathers motif. (That’s my favorite Noguchi lamp in the left hand side of the frame, by the way.)
A yogi is a kimono-shaped comforter that would have been laid on top of the person who’s asleep like a quilt or blanket; it wouldn’t have been worn. The repeat pattern is that of peonies amid a very florid trailing vine called karakusa in Japan. Katazome is a stencil resist technique and the hand-cut stencils (called katagami) used to imprint designs are made of mulberry paper saturated with persimmon tannin and they themselves are works of art and are highly collectible. I think I’ll talk more about the katazome technique in later blog entries.
The absolutely amazing thing about this katazome cloth is that it is double-sided: the clear impression is equally bright on each side, which means that the katazome artisan had to stencil resist both sides of the cloth, registering the stencil exactly and perfectly, front and back. Mind boggling if you think about it.