Written on August 25, 2010
What a beautiful coat: this is a sakiori hanten, a work coat that is woven from a white cotton warp which is fed by weft yarns of shredded, recycled indigo dyed cotton. The sashiko stitched sleeves seem to be sewn from a recycled sashiko furoshiki; the reinforcement on the neck area is meant to guard against wear, presumably from the strap of a burden basket.
The weaving of the body of the coat is tight and regular; a sakiori garment woven from indigo dyed weft is desirable. The sashiko stitching on the neck reinforcement is just wonderful: the tight stitching gives added strength that area of the coat, and zigzag pattern is the traditional yabane or arrow feather motif.The interlocking circle motif, again, beautifully stitched on the sleeves, is a traditional Japanese motif which is borrowed from the Chinese. In Japan it is called shippo tsunagi and it is a representation of the “seven Buddhist jewels” mentioned in Buddhist sutras: agate, amber, coral, gold, lapis lazuli, pearl and silver.I find this coat to be phenomenally handsome. It’s very lightly used and most likely it dates to the mid-twentieth century. Traditional work coats were still being hand woven and hand sewn well into the twentieth century in rural Japan.