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Archives for November, 2009

Kaki Shibu Dyed Textiles

November 28, 2009

Today I am showing some textiles that were “dyed” in the fermented juice extracted from unripe persimmons; this extract, called kaki shibu in Japan, yields a highly recognizable brown color when applied to cloth, paper and wood.

Kaki shibu was very widely utilized in old Japan as it was easy to apply and its benefits were useful: kaki shibu strengthened  the material it saturated, rendered it somewhat waterproof, and was also said to contain anti-bacterial properties.


Here we see a group of antique sakabukuro, or cotton bags that were saturated with green persimmon tannin and were used to filter crude sake.  If cloth is dipped many times in kaki shibu, a leathery look results from the build-up of layers of kaki shibu.

Since sakabukuro were used and re-used many, many times over a period of several years, they required mending.  The mending stitches on sakabukuro are unmistakable, and the more mending there is, the more attractive the bag–in my estimation, that is.


Below is a detail of the resist-dyed  noren or door cover which is shown in full in the photo at the top of the blog.  It is beautifully worn and faded, and it is discussed a bit more in detail, here.


If you are interested in kaki shibu,  have a quick look at this website who supplies the tannin and offers workshops.

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A Very Stitched and Layered Boro Kotatsu Cover

November 21, 2009

When I travel to Japan to look for antique, rural, utilitarian cloth, I am always very pleased to find a piece like this very heavily layered and sashiko stitched kotatsushiki.  Coming across very stitched, boro textiles like the one shown on this post is becoming rarer and rarer, so locating such a piece is pure pleasure.

This heavily layered, square-shaped blanket was used to capture heat: a kotatsu is a brazier over which a wooden table armature is placed, over which layers of blankets are draped in order to contain heat and for people to be able to tuck themselves under to keep warm.  Have a look at a modern-day, electric kotatsu here.

Enjoy looking at the photos of this fine, old piece, which is sewn together from old cloth, probably deconstructed kimono and bedding.


Although this piece does not show it specifically, some kotatsushiki show wear on its four edges: often you’ll see layers of patches on these areas, which makes sense as the four edges received most wear from people scooting underneath for wear.




Do feel free to contact me if you have interest in acquiring this beauty or if you have questions.

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