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Archives for June, 2010

A Nineteenth Century Tsutsugaki Yogi: Sleeping Kimono

June 30, 2010

Shown today is a mid-to-late nineteenth century, indigo dyed cotton tsutsugaki yogi, a sleeping kimono onto which auspicious symbols have been hand drawn and resist-dyed.

Most likely this yogi was part of a larger trousseau of items that were offered to a newly married couple, the trousseau usually consisting of one or more futon covers, diapers, furoshiki or wrapping cloths and the like.  This yogi is not worn on the body, but rather it is laid over the body as a duvet would be: this yogi would have been stuffed with some kind of wadding–cotton or other–to provide warmth.  The original wadding has been taken from this sleeping kimono.The top, central roundel design shows a tortoise and a crane.   The crane is a symbol of long life and conjugal fidelity as cranes mate for life.  The tortoise, too, is a wish for longevity, both for the life of the couple and for that of the marriage.The image, below, is that of the pine.  Again, pine–being evergreen–is a symbol of long life, but as its needles fall in pairs, it is also a talisman bestowing good things to the married couple.Bamboo, below, is a wonderful symbol as it suggests resilience–it bends but does not break.This yogi is hand woven from hand spun cotton and is faded beautifully.  As well, it is nicely patched and mended as it has been used very well since it was made, well over 100 years ago.

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Zanshi-ori: Cloth Woven from Leftover Threads

June 25, 2010

Today I am showing a group of zanshi-ori, or cloth woven from leftover, cotton yarns.  The centerpiece of this group is a work coat, or noragi, unusual for its lining of zanshi-ori, shown here as the coat’s exterior.

For some reason, zanshi-ori is most often woven and used as bedding, so seeing it applied to a garment is refreshing.  This particular coat seems not to have been worn, and its proper exterior is not of zanshi-ori, but of a hand woven, checked cotton.  This coat most likely dates from the mid-twentieth century.Zanshi-ori is usually distinguished by its randomly spaced pattern of stripes seen on the weft.  In most cases, the warp is fixed–as in the case with this coat–and the weft is fed with an assortment of yarns that have been knotted together:  the result is this intermittent striping.Zanshi-ori is one of my personal favorite categories of Japanese country textiles: not only is it distinctive and beautiful, its origins in thrift and resourcefulness are inspiring, and something of a life lesson.  Below, on the right-hand side, you’ll see a length of zanshi-ori cotton that belies what I said above, that the warp is fixed with a non-zanshi yarn and the weft is fed with zanshi threads.  In this case, the cloth is woven from a warp made from leftover kasuri threads and the weft is a regular pattern of stripes.What I love about the zanshi-ori futon cover, below, is there is evidence that kasuri or ikat threads were used in weaving this piece, as little blips of weft kasuri images appear on this cloth, as can be seen below.

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