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A Beautifully Colored 19th Century Pieced Silk “Yose Juban”

Written on January 3, 2009

In previous postings on this site I have shown examples of yose (pieced) juban (under-kimono) which are hand sewn from pieces of  ‘recycled’ silk cloth, 95% of which are hand dyed using botanical dyes and employing complex  techniques to imprint repeat patterns onto the cloth.  I was looking through my collection of yose juban, and I found this one, which I hadn’t considered for a long time, and I was struck by the dark, rich beauty of its color palette.

On the bodice of this piece, you can see the blue crepe silk (chirimen) which is dyed in indigo; the purple cloth is dyed in gromwell root, called shikon in Japan.  Note the basting stitches on the right of the photo: these stitches are done with hemp thread.

I love the narrow tonal range of the dark purple and brown pieces of striped silk which are hand-stitched to form a subtle collage.

The silk lining is orange, quite typical of this kind of 19th century undergarment, and the dyestuff used to create this pure orange is safflower, called benibana in Japan.  Often these linings, too, are made from rescued pieces of cloth, and if you look closely you can see how this lining is pieced together: you can see an example of a disengaged lining here which is a complex arrangement of hand-stitched pieces—-and which I find really beautiful.

Below is a detail of the fabric used to border the lining (you can see it in the photo above, as well): quite amazing when you think that this cloth was hand dyed using three processes: first was a stencil resist pattern using the katazome techique (to acheive the bamboo leaf pattern) over which was laid vertical, blue stripes, over this was laid horizontal, blue stripes to create the lattice pattern which is super-imposed over the repeated bamboo leaf pattern.

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  1. Comment by Lorie:

    absolutely gorgeous, and the piece hanging by the window looks like leaded glass! What an amazing blog, the objects are completely beautiful, and educational too..I love Japanese things.

    January 6, 2009 @ 8:31 am