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Archives for April, 2009

A Large, Layered and Very Stitched Boro Furoshiki and a Collection of Sashiko Stitched Zokin

April 24, 2009

Today’s post features a large, very layered and very eccentrically sashiko stitched, boro furoshiki, or wrapping cloth which is  flanked by a collection of densely stitched zokin or dustrags made from  re-used, re-purposed cloth.

The furoshiki measures 68″ x 60″/ 173 cm x 152.5 cm and it is an elegant mess of scraps of cotton cloth that are layered in areas and arranged with no regard for symmetry: the entire wrapping cloth is pierced by a heavy network of sashiko stitching which travels strange paths in odd directions, often pooling up in tight, eddies of thread.

Below the furoshiki you’ll see a stack of vintage, hemp cloth zabuton and a large, 19th century silk drawstring bag.




Which is front and which is back?  Each side is a similarly interesting exploration of re-using cloth scraps and employing stitching as a means to strengthen and reinforce re-purposed materials.  Even though this furoshiki contains scraps of cloth from the late 19th century, most of the cloth is from the 20th, and my guess is that this was made in the 1930s or 40s.


The images of two zokin, below, show a tough little work horse of a cloth: each is a concentrated pad made of layers of recycled coton which has been thoroughly and completely stitched.

As with the furoshiki shown here, I’ll be offering the zokin for sale on my website in the next week or so.



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A Sakiori Kotasugake, Apron and a Child’s Vest

April 21, 2009

Pictured hanging on the wall is a group of three very attractive sakiori pieces: on the top left is a child’s vest, underneath is a very rustic, repaired apron with cotton ties and on the right is a kotatsugake (a cover for a brazier which was used as a heat source) which is edged in red plaid cotton and is repaired with small patches.  This kotatsugake will be offered for sale on on 22 April on my website.


Each of these pieces dates to the early-to-mid twentieth century: sakiori is a weaving technique whereby scraps of cotton or silk cloth is shredded and turned into yarn.   When cotton first became widely available in Japan in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, it was worn by urbanites who could afford this new cloth.  Very poor country people could only afford to buy cotton scraps which they used as a weft yarn, weaving it against a bast fiber warp.   Later, when cotton became more available, cotton yarn was used for the warp, as is the case with these pieces.


This child’s vest, below, is made from wool threads and shreds, slightly unusual for a sakiori piece as most are made from cotton.  It comes from an important sakiori collection and was found in Shimane Prefecture in 1993, a gift from the woman who made it to the collector.  Apparently, the weaver made this small sodenashi, or vest, for her grandchild.  Note the grey felt lining that has been partially removed.   Wool fibers were chosen for their lightness and warmth.


The apron, shown below here is very well-used.  In old Japan, aprons were an important accessory in the attire worn for work in every day life: they were worn for work in the home, in the fields and, if you were a shopkeeper, in your store.  This one of alternating white and blue cotton strips was clearly used everyday by a country lady as it shows the patina of wear, has some crude mendings, and shows some discoloration.  I like this piece a lot, for all these reasons.


Below is a stack of kotatsugake or brazier covers.  Pay special attention to the bright piece in the center of the stack.  This one comes from Aomori, one of the most remote and rural areas of Japan.  When commercially dyed cottons in bright colors became available in the early 20th century, they were employed for sakiori: imagine that these new colors were a novelty to country folk who only wove with natural fibers or cloth dyed in indigo or from other botanical sources.  This kind of bright cloth was referred to as karafuru a version of the borrowed English word, “colorful.”


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Some Photos of Interesting Textiles and Objects at Sri Showroom

April 12, 2009

I thought I would show some wonderful photos of my collection and showroom which were taken by my friend, Lyn Hughes, a superb
New York- based photographer whose skills cut across boundaries: she photographs interiors, food, Broadway shows, travel,  large-scale public events, portraits and weddings.  Have a look at Lyn Hughes’ website here. If you go to the homepage of my website, here, you’ll see more of Lyn’s work.


Below is a shot I composed: it shows a group of zokin or stitched, recycled ‘dustrags’ arranged contiguously.


Below is a shima cho, or an antique book of weaving samples; it most likely dates to the 19th century.  I like the way Lyn used a special lens to create the distortion on this photo.






Below are two antique Indian copper vessels; they are for use in Hindu rituals and they are in the shape of the yoni,  or the female generative organ.   These vessels are used “to bathe” with water an image of god while shlokas or prayers are being uttered.   Keeping in mind that Lord Shiva, one of the great gods, is represented at times as a lingam or phallus, it should stand to reason that his counterpart would come in to play during ritual oblations, as so much of Eastern philosophy relies on dual aspects, usually represented as “male” and “female.”  For example, in Hindu belief,  god is “powerless” without the enlivening energy or shakti of his goddess, and likewise, the power of a goddess is inert without her consort.

Soon I will be offering for sale about three of these vessels from my collection.  I find them very beautiful.


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Would You Like To Learn How To Make a Korean Pojagi?

April 9, 2009

…well now you can.

Based on the success of  New York’s The Korea Society’s pojagi classes, more are being offered beginning this May lasting through this October in New York City.

This new batch of four new sessions of classes will not be held at The Korea Society, so please contact [email protected] for more detailed course information, fees and the location of the class.


Each of the four sessions is offered in four parts over consecutive Saturdays from 11AM – 1 PM.

The four sessions are titled: “The Art of the Patchwork Class,” “The Art of the Wedding Wrapping Cloth,” “The Subtleties of the See-Through Cloth,” “Utilitarian Works.”  Materials are provided.


Happy stitching.

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Color & Light: Embroidery from India and Pakistan at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York City through 11 May 2009

April 6, 2009

The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City is presenting a stunning exhibition consisting of 60 lavishly embroidered textiles from India and Pakistan.  The Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, whose holdings consist of one of the world ‘s finest collections of textiles of South Asia, is loaning work from their collection of South Asian textiles for this exhibition.

The exhibition displays a wide range of sewn embellishment  and it surveys the rich spectrum of cultural variety found in India and Pakistan:  embroidery, applique, bead work, mirror work and fancy tassel work are in wild profusion here– and as a whole the show is heady with color, pattern and vibrancy.


This chic and exuberant jacket is a boy’s garment or jhuladi (above) or jeladioo as it is spoken in the regional language, from the Ahir community of Gujarat and it dates to about 1970.

It is made from floss silk embroidery on plain-weave cotton, the kind of work on this coat is referred to as heer work, aari work or kuchhi work.  Imagine seeing this being worn by a small boy in the desert sun!


This boldly graphic detail (above)  is from a bed cover or dharaniyo from the Kutch region of Gujarat and it was made around 1980.  It is attributed to the Banni Muslim community and it is sewn from plain-weave cotton appliqued on plain weave cotton.  The full piece measures 51 1/2″ x 31 1/2″.


I’ve shown Bengali and Bangladeshi kanthas on this site before, and this wonderful one above can be seen in this exhibition.

This one is stitched by Srimirthi Lokhibala Dashi (note the signature) and hails from West Bengal, India: it was made some time between 1920 – 1960 of floss silk embroidery on pieced and quilted plain-weave cotton.  It measures 72 1/4″ x 50 1/4″.  If you are interested in seeing any pieces from my collection of a dozen or so kanthas, just e mail me.

The trio of  images shown here portrays a folk mood which prevails at the exhibition, but be prepared to be dazzled by some of the more “refined” pieces stitched for the wealthy, upper echelon of Indian society–what comes to mind is a magnificent, Chinese embroidered piece for a Parsi patron in Gujarat, where a community of Chinese lived and practiced their amazing embroidery skills.

If you are visiting New York, make a point to visit this magnificent exhibition–and build in time to stop back: you’ll want to see it again.

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A Black Ramie Pojagi against a Large Mat of Boro Sakabukuro

April 3, 2009

This first image on today’s post may be a bit hard to understand as it must appear at first glance to be nothing more than contrasting  color and texture.

This post revisits an earlier post where I showed a large mat sewn from twelve sakabukuro.  I was scrolling through some of my old photos and I found these images of a black, Korean pojagi set against the backdrop of the mat of sakabukuro and I liked the way the color and texture played against one anotherand I also thought it would be an interesting study in similarity and contrast: I’m sure you will see what I mean.

Because these images show some details of the black pojagi that has appeared in the margins of photos in previous posts,  I thought they would be informative toward describing a bit more about  the pojagi–and I hope you enjoy looking.





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