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An End of Summer Insect Menagerie

Written on August 31, 2010

What fun.  This wonderful textile is a mid 19th century tenugui, a kind of all-purpose hand towel that has many everyday uses and is still very much part of Japanese life.

Tenugui are known for their fanciful designs, but this one, with is stencil resist design of insects, snails and frogs is remarkable.The cotton of this tenugui is hand loomed; the pale blue color–dyed from botanical indigo–is called asagi.In Japan, the insects depicted on this hand towel are very much associated with late summer.  Similarly, around the world, butterflies and dragonflies appear at summer’s end.I love the delicacy of the depiction of these insects……and the frog and slug.

This is a wildly charming tenugui–and it seems that it was never used.  The condition is crisp and perfect.

This tenugui measures 12 3/4″ x 37″ or 32.5 cm x 94 cm.

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  1. Comment by Storycloth:

    This is a treasure cloth. Functional poetry. Sitting in meadow sunshine. Beautiful sharing cloth. Thank you. Gilly

    August 31, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  2. Comment by petra voegtle:

    Just found your beautiful blog through Style Court.
    I love textiles very much and these pieces are wonderful. Will visit you often and enjoy your images.
    Greetings from Munich,

    September 1, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  3. Comment by velma bolyard:

    this is a fascinating textile. reminds me of my meadow, down at eyelevel if you look out over the goldenrod, you’d see the insects flitting about against the blue of sky–you’ve enlightened my seeing!

    September 4, 2010 @ 9:24 am