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Archives for May, 2010

Rugs of Repurposed Material: The Boucherouite Rugs of Rural Morocco at Cavin-Morris Gallery, NYC

May 27, 2010

Through July 2, Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York City is exhibiting rugs from rural Morocco which are woven from repurposed materials.   Boucherouite refers to a form of rag from rural areas of Morocco created from wool and cotton, along with synthetic fibers such as Lurex, Nylon and plastic, all of which are incorporated into these stunning and original contemporary rugs.

The free-form composition of these rugs, all woven by women are, as Cavin-Morris Gallery says “a liberation from tradition, while at the same time that they uphold it.  But there are no rules, and there is no way to look at a rug, and pinpoint exactly where it comes from.  They are Pan-Moroccan.”

Cavin Morris Gallery explains that “the rugs are woven in a creative, improvisatory style by the weavers whose choice of colors and textures gives the rugs the feeling of painting.  They are a new cultural form created from necessity meeting personal aesthetics. ”

The rugs range in price from $1500 to $3000; the sizes are in a wide range from that of a prayer rug to twice or three times that.

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May 24, 2010

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A Large, Boro, Sashiko Furoshiki

May 22, 2010

Today I’m showing a large, boro, indigo dyed cotton, sashiko stitched furoshiki–a furoshiki is a traditional, Japanese wrapping cloth, used for both storage and for transporting things from place to place.

Notice the stitching on each of the four corners: the stitches are formed in a chrysanthemum motif and were sewn on to provide strength and durability to the furoshiki.Furoshiki such as this were often presented to a newly married couple as a part of their wedding trousseau.  Depending on where one lived and what one’s social status was, trousseaux were often composed of a prescribed set of items: so many furoshiki in so many sizes, futon covers, x number of diapers and the like.    Very often wedding trousseau items were decorated using “fancy” techniques such as sashiko stitching or resist dyeing such as katazome or tsutsugaki.The patching and mending to this piece are really wonderful, as is the large, central white cotton piece that was used for added strength.  Clearly this furoshiki was well-used.

This furoshiki probably dates to the late nineteenth, early twentieth century.  It measures 65″ x 65″ or 165 cm x 165 cm.

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An Asa Benibana Kimono: Shocking Pink Safflower Dye and Bast Fiber

May 19, 2010

This is a very richly colored kimono: it is made of  hand plied, hand woven hemp cloth that has been dyed using benibana, or a safflower-derived dye.

AsaBenibanaKimono1The color is gorgeous and the condition is superb: the benibana dye is still as vibrant as the day it was made.  Safflower dye can be very light-fugitive, so fading is a common problem with fabrics dyed in benibana.   The fact that this one is so beautifully intact and vivid is worth noting.AsaBenibanaKimono1aThe interior of the eri, or collar, is lined in chirimen, or crepe, silk which has been dyed in what appears to be a synthetic, red dye–not uncommon during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) which is the era I believe this kimono was made.AsaBenibanaKimono1bPictured on the cloth are images rendered in the shibori technique:  folding fans, plum blossoms, and chidori, or plovers which are depicted scampering through the surf.AsaBenibanaKimono1c

AsaBenibanaKimono1dThis kimono, for its fine condition and rich color, is a prime example of its type.

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Shima: An Album of Japanese Stripes

May 16, 2010






























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A Striking and Luminous Tsutsugaki Yogi

May 13, 2010

As much as I love the art of tsutsugaki, I don’t collect this material in force.  I have to really, really be impressed with a piece to want to acquire it—and this is the case with how I came to collect this tsutsugaki yogi, which I consider to be very impressive and extraordinarily beautiful.YogiCrane1Small format photos don’t do this piece justice.  What may or may not translate in photos is what, for me, is the magic of this piece, which is a luminous quality: the yogi seems almost back- lit, as if there is light shining out of it.YogiCrane1aThis effect is partially due to all that wonderful asagi or pale blue that forms a halo around the young pines, which are so abundant in this design.  The asagi also illuminates the ground on which the magical crane stands.YogiCrane1bAs well, to further enhance this lustrous image  are the soft edges of the deep blue indigo–quite unusual.   Look carefully at some of the detail photos below, and focus on the smudged, inky blue  that surrounds the ground area under the plants.  The same, smudged blue enhances the horizontal areas of the landscape.   Most likely when the final rice paste resist was placed over the entire image so as to dye the body of the yogi that deep, deep blue color, the artisan used a stiff brush and stippled the rice pasted over the pale blue, thus creating this gradient edge.YogiCrane1cI love the almost Cubist stance of this crane and the way it is folded onto itself, so we get to see all sides of it by looking directly on to it.  Quite a skillful drawing, to be sure.YogiCrane1dWhen you see this yogi “in person” you will notice how judicious is placement of that spot of red on the crane’s head: it is perfectly targeted to draw just the right amount of subtle attention to that area.YogiCrane1e


YogiCrane1gThis yogi was probably made in the mid nineteenth century.  The large, family crest seen on top, center of the garment is the tachibana or mandarin orange.

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A Magnificent, Sashiko Stiched Donza or Sakkuri

May 10, 2010

This marvel is an indigo dyed cotton sashiko sakkuri or donza from Fukui Prefecture which is situated on the Sea of Japan.

DonzaBlog1More specifically, this kind of all-over stitched kimono is from Mikuni, a prosperous port town which engaged in trading; in this region, work coats were referred to as sakkuri; this kind of coat is sometimes called a donza. Have a look at the intricate sashiko stitching this marvelous coat.DonzaBlog1aThe stitched pattern, below, is called kaki no hana or persimmon flower.DonzaBlog1bMost likely this was worn by a fisherman on special social occasions, whether it be a celebration or, perhaps, bringing goods to market.  This one shows very little wear and most likely dates to mid twentieth century.DonzaBlog1cThe Victoria and Albert Museum in London owns a similar coat which is published in their book, Japanese Country Textiles. In this book, they attribute their coat to a farmer.  In the Kyoto Shoin Series of books, in the volume Kogin and Sashiko Stitch, similar examples to this coat are shown and they indicate these types of sashiko stitched kimono were worn by fisherman.  Likely both farmers and fishermen wore these.

DonzaBlog1dThe lining is made of leftover or “recycled” fabrics, including some tenugui, or souvenir towels, which are a very familiar sight in Japan.DonzaBlog1e


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A Really Large, Pieced Cotton Drawstring Bag

May 7, 2010

The VERY large bag pictured below is even bigger than it seems here: although I tried showing it against “normal” sized, piece constructed drawstring bags to give a sense of scale, the gulf in size between the normal ones and this large one is somehow not as vivid as it is in actuality.BigBag1It’s so large that I didn’t have enough stuffing to plump it up to full size: inside this bag right now are four pillows and a queen-sized duvet.  And there’s room for twice this volume.  Just amazing!BigBag1aMost likely this big, hand sewn, cotton drawstring bag was used to store one or more futons.  I’d say it was made in the 1930s or 1940s.BigBag1bThe twisted rope that is the bag’s drawstring, seen above, is fabricated from indigo dyed kasuri cotton scraps.BigBag1cThis is a really unusual bag that is constructed from a beautiful array of cottons.  It’s partially lined–also with cotton scraps–and is and oversized delight.

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Extreme Sashiko

May 4, 2010

Today I am showing two items that are covered with sashiko stitching: one is a pair of rustic, cotton tabi and the other is a drawstring bag, often referred to as a zenibukuro, with a fancy, purple silk braided cord.

SashikoSet1The tabi are unusual; they seem to be “inside-out.”  Usually indigo dyed cotton is used on the outside of tabi as it hides dirt and wear.  On this pair, which have not been used, the indigo cotton is on the inside while the white cotton is on the outside.SashikoSet1aThe zenibukuro is absolutely rich with stitching, in this case the kaki no hana or persimmon flower motif is shown.  It appears this bag was fashioned from another type of item–recycled, I guess you could say–maybe from a furoshiki or a traditional wrapping cloth.SashikoSet1bBelow you will notice that the ends of the silk cording of the zenibukuro are weighted with two coins, each of which is secured with a knot.SashikoSet1cThe bag and the tabi are wonderful examples of sashiko stitching.

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