Written on 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.Small 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.This 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.As 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.I 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.When 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.
This 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.