Written on February 10, 2010
There is such a density of small, evenly spaced sashiko stitches on this kotatsu cover that this old Japanese textile appears to be obscured by a thin veil of mist.
This large (approximately 5 1/2′ x 5′ or 1.5 m x 1.7 m) cloth is sewn from layers of indigo dyed cotton and was used to cover a table-like armature that was placed over a brazier: in old Japan, a family would gather around the brazier and they would tuck themselves under this cover to keep warm.Looking at this stunning cloth we are reminded of Minimal Art from the 70s: imagine giving Agnes Martin a needle and thread. I think this is pretty much what would have been produced.The surface of this kotatsu cover has an almost silver-like sheen from the field of small, white cotton stitches: it may not be so ironic that I decided to post images of this cloth on the very day that New York–and so much of the Eastern seaboard of the United States–was hit with a blizzard and buried in snow. When I looked out my window today, the scene outside was not so different than the photos above, and below.On the first two photos, above, I love the subtle, dark mark dead-center on this cloth: the discoloration from prolonged exposure to the brazier still retains its heat. Well, on the suggestive level, at least.