Written on March 31, 2010
I love antique Japanese zabuton, which are traditional cushions that are still very much in daily use in Japan. Here is a stack of fine, old ones that are made from the marvelously good Omi jofu, a kind of super fine hemp and ramie kasuri (ikat) from Shiga Prefecture.
Aren’t they beautiful? The warm tone of the indigo and the very good kasuri is just wonderful–as is the old, cotton batting which fills out the cushions. These old zabuton are thin with batting and they don’t provide a lot of “cushion.” Newer, commercial zabuton are quite thick and bouncy, but in old Japan, when cotton was expensive, the padding was minimal, as can be seen in these examples shown here.
Note the contrasting, red cotton threads used to “quilt” the cushions. Notice, as well, the lush pattern created mainly of folding fans and plum blossoms, both tradtional Japanese design motives.I estimate that these cushions date to the 1920s or 1930s; for having been used and for having such age they are still in very good condition and are still amazingly attractive–and they are still very much able to be used in the home. There are 11 of them and each measures 11″ x 21″/ 28 cm x 53.5 cm.