Written on August 7, 2009
Today’s post shows a collection of five pieces, each similar in style to one another, but slightly different in function. The center piece is a mino, or a kind of thatched rain cape, the four flanking pieces are called seate. A seate is a back pad used to cushion the body against the weight and abrasion of carrying heavy burden.
The two seate on the left are woven from strips of recycled rags; the two on the right are woven from rice straw, rush or sedge.
The mino, below, and shown in detail photos, is woven from rice straw and some kind of bast or tree bark fiber; there may be component of shina (linden) twisted into the neck area and the rope twine. I was told the black strands are seaweed.
Most likely these seate and mino date to the mid-twentieth century: up until mid-century, some rural areas of Japan were still very much operating as they had for centuries, using age-old materials and methods for their everyday farming, foraging and sustenance.
If you happen upon ukiyo-e prints or antique Japanese paintings, occasionally you’ll see a country scene that shows a local person dressed in a mino and some kind of head covering.
Without sounding disparaging, these seate and mino suggest “tribal” art in their manner of weaving, decoration and materials.