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Archives for October, 2010

A Luxuriously Sashiko Stitched Indigo Dyed Cotton Bag

October 30, 2010

This lavishly sashiko stitched, indigo dyed bag is fashioned in an unusual way, with a plunging cleft at top.  Why is this?  Most likely this bag was used to carry a sake bottle.The bag is big, and is sake bottle sized, so this assumption is probably correct.  The bag, dating from the Meiji Era (1868-1912) measures 19″ x 10 1/2″ or 48 cm x 26.5 cm.The sashiko stitching is a repeat pattern of the popular, traditional motif asa-no-ha or hemp leaf.  The bag is lined in hand woven cotton.

The cotton cord is original to the bag.This is a fantastically beautiful bag, for its stitching, its unusual form, and the wonderful patina from wear.

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A Complex and Beautiful, Mid-19th Century Katazome Dyed Han Juban made of Samples

October 27, 2010

This intricately stencil resist dyed han juban is a feast for the eyes: what variety is there in the many, very complex patterns dyed in exquisitely clear, blue indigo.The color is beautiful: the powdery, rich, sky-blue color is called asagi.  And the delicacy of the rendering of the many patterns shown is poetic.Each of the patterns is based on a design concept wherein a patterned motif is seen through a mist of vertical bars; this “screening” of the motif adds air and light to the design.This han juban, or half-under kimono, is cotton and was made in the mid nineteenth century, during the last years of the Edo Period (1603-1868).  The katazome dyeing seen on this example is masterful.Can you see bats flying in the image above?  Swallows, or tsubame, are seen below, among other traditional motives.Peonies and geese are seen below.Within the swirling arabesques, below,  is the mokume or woodgrain pattern.These patterns are cooling to the eye.  The reason for so many patterns is that this han juban was sewn from a dyer’s sampler, a length of cloth from which special orders would be taken.The lyricism of these patterns is not quite cloying; the designer was too smart for something saccharine, and delivered images that are ethereal and structured at the same time.

I could admire this piece for hours.  It’s peaceful,  inventive and beautiful.   And its age adds something mysterious to its beauty.

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