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Archives for January, 2010

A Wonderful Boro Work Coat: Fantastically Good Threads

January 29, 2010

I always look forward to posting images of excellent quality boro garments, which I’ve done a few times in the past and which I’m doing again today.

Noragi1This is a marvelous, very heavily patched and mended boro work kimono, sometimes referred to as a nagagi.

What makes this a superlative coat is its age, the quality of the indigo dyed cottons (the yarns are hand spun and all the cloth is hand woven),  its broad, thick stitching, and the inclusion of some very interesting resist dyed cottons and some fantastic, old plaids.

The wear and the fading also contribute to the unconventional beauty of this coat; its soulfulness is the messenger of its appeal.  Noragi1aMost of the cloth used to stitch this coat dates to the mid-to-late nineteenth century: have a look at the photo, below, showing a patch on the coat’s sleeve: notice the katazome, or stencil resist dyed cloth which shows gradient stripes: the Japanese refer to this kind of optical striping as “waterfall.”  Noragi1bAgain, below, look at the nice, big patch of beautifully faded katazome dyed cotton.  Of course the indigo dye used for all the cloth on this coat is botanical.Noragi1c

The coat’s back is almost three-dimensional from the profusion and layering of patches.  Noragi1dThe stitching on some of the pieces is done in thick, white sashiko thread, creating a kind of tracery–a very interesting and delicate contrast to the body of the coat.Noragi1e

Tokyo’s Amuse Museum is now showing the boro collection of the esteemed ethnologist Mr. Chuzaburo Tanaka, whose extensive collection of boro garments–amassed over forty years–was acquired in one of Japan’s most remote and rural regions, Aomori Prefecture.

Please see the link to this phenomenal exhibition here. Those of you familiar with the book “Boro: Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan” will recognize this exhibition as the same collection shown in the book.

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A Length of Indigo Dyed Hemp Asa Boro Cloth: Complex Katazome Reverse

January 27, 2010

On the previous post, below this one, I showed a beautiful, cotton cloth printed on its front and back.  Today I’m showing yet another cloth that is wonderful on both of its sides.

PlaidBlog1This is a length of indigo dyed katazome hemp cloth that is heavily patched on one side; the reverse shows a beautiful, two-process katazome dyed pattern.  The hemp cloth is very finely woven.PlaidBlog1aThis hemp boro cloth is patched with hemp fragments, with the exception of the large, plain blue patch which is silk.  The mending stitches are really beautifully done, and some of them are quite intricate.PlaidBlog1cThe photos below show details of the katazome dyed pattern on the reverse side of the boro cloth shown above.   The dyed plaid repeat  is really elegant and subtle, and the technique used to stencil-resist dye the cloth is complex.PlaidBlog1d

Note that the resist dyed pattern runs in two directions, which means the cloth needed to be resisted and dyed twice: once in indigo for the “east/west” stripes, then using a brown dyestuff for the “north/south” stripes.  The end result is just beautiful in its color and its design.

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