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Lots of Komebukuro

Written on January 12, 2010

Today I am showing a portion of my collection of komebukurokomebukuro being a general term for a piece-constructed, drawstring bag made from scraps of cloth.  The bags were used to carry dried rice or beans as offerings to temples and shrines during festivals or ritual events.  I will be selling these bags on my website over time.

I said that komebukuro is a general term for this type of bag.  The reason I say this is that it is my belief that not all these bags were used for shrine festivals.  I think some of the larger ones were made for everyday use in the home.  The smaller, more fanciful pieces were probably used as offering bags.

I’m sure that the two pieces on top of the heap, above, are komebukuro.  They are silk bags, made from scraps of resist dyed and brocade silks: quite luxurious.  Komebukuro were made from cotton and from silk.  Note the elaborate green, silk cord and tassel on the silk komebukuro in the middle of the pile.  Kumihimo, or artful Japanese braiding, is a serious form of study and research, and is still practiced by artisans in Japan and abroad.  Have a look at a video of kumihimo braiding here.


A textile dealer friend in Japan showed me something interesting regarding komebukuro.  She unfurled a great length of patchwork cloth that had long perplexed her: why such a narrow length of intricately stitched pieces of cotton?  Then she realized that this was a “komebukuro in the rough.”  Apparently, scraps would be stitched together and a long piece of cloth was formed: from this long piece, shorter lengths would be cut and then fashioned into a komebukuro. Of course on the more decorative, silk komebukuro, such a practice was not applied–the fanciful pieces were made using advanced piecing techniques and were works of bravado.

I wanted to publish images of komebukuro shown as a group in order to illustrate the variety of sizes, from small to large.  I am fortunate to have many of these bags, and I look forward to offering them for sale.  Stay tuned.


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  1. Comment by Paula:

    Terrific photos and arrangement. a classic case of the whole being > the parts. hope you get the images published. I’m particularly enchanted with the top two and the orange, blue, and brown one on the floor in the first photo.

    January 13, 2010 @ 6:33 pm