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Three Gorgeous Boro Aprons and Two Wonderful “Horn Bags”

Written on November 25, 2008

I’m showing three boro aprons and two tsunobukuro, or “horn” bags; tsunobukuro are referred to by this name because the top of the bags have two points, or so-called “horns.”

The two aprons on the bottom of the photo above are made of indigo dyed hemp; the top apron is made of a variety of indigo dyed cotton kasuri cloth which has been beautifully and crudely stitched together.

This magnificently and richly patched boro apron is a marvel, and it is one of my favorite pieces here at Sri.  It is made entirely of small fragments of indigo dyed hemp cloth, most of which are koshi, or checked.  The layers of cloth and the radically crude stitching–not to mention the color–add up to make this a jewel of a boro textile.  Hard to dispute.

Imagine that the textures of this apron are very much that of hemp cloth; most likely these fragments are from the nineteenth century.  The stitching–which is eccentric, intense and all-over–is done with white cotton thread.

This is an unusual tsunobukuro because it is made of katazome dyed hemp cloth: very often tsunobukuro are made of undyed hemp.  This one has been dyed in the stencil resist, katazome method.  This bag comes to us from Nambu, in the very remote Aomori Prefecture, the northernmost area on Honshu island.

The inside of the bag is shown in order to highlight the beautiful patches and stitching.

Tsunobukuro are made from one length of cloth that has been twisted and sewn on the bias.  Most likely, tsunobukuro were used for storage.

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  1. Comment by Eliza:

    Hello, Sri — curious about the katazome stencil design I should be seeing in the horn bag; I see rich indigo but not a pattern. I’ve been enjoying your website since it came my way through a Google-alert for “katazome” recently, and you reconnected me to Rowland and Chinami Ricketts, for which I’m grateful. Many thanks, Eliza

    December 1, 2008 @ 9:46 am