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Archives for November, 2010

A Stunningly Artful Mid-Century Boro Textile

November 28, 2010

What a beautifully layered, patched and arranged boro textile, and one that shows fabrics from nineteenth century hand woven indigo cottons to mid twentieth century, commercially produced textiles.The way the patches are crowded toward the left half  of the piece–and the sheer variety of textures, colors and stitching to be found–is so engaging to look at.Some boro connoisseurs can be purists and will only consider boro textiles that are made entirely of hand spun, hand woven, indigo dyed cloth, much like this one shown here. I know of one Japanese textile dealer who only collects boro cloth of pure, old blue cotton and hemp: he will not collect boros that are constructed of striped or patterned cloth, even if they are nineteenth century.I bring this up for some perspective: the person I just mentioned, above, would not have a high regard for this piece because it shows so many commercially produced fabrics.  I understand his purity of vision, and I agree with him that the more “valuable” boros are sewn from very old cloth, but I can certainly appreciate this piece for its artftulness–and also because this kind of textile is indeed very authentic to old Japan, even if it was made in the 1930s or 40s.   People made and used this kind of cloth for themselves well into the twentieth century.

Note the patch of faux kanoko shibori or fawn dappled shibori, above.Even though my “purist” colleague has narrow parameters for collecting boro, I have to admit that I really like the way the woven cotton damask patch, seen above, works as a foil to the other patches that surround it.  This piece was either a kotatsugake or a futon cover.  A kotatsugake is a thickly woven or patched textile that is used to retain heat from a central heating brazier called a kotatsu; a table is set up over the brazier and thick cloth is draped over it.  Family members would have sat around the brazier, with their laps under the draped fabric, and in this way, they would have been kept warm.This piece measures 59″ x 50″ or 150 cm x 127 cm.

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A Set of Five Wooden Tabi Forms

November 23, 2010

Today I am showing a group of five carved, wooden forms used in the making of tabi, or Japan’s traditional split-toe “socks.”These forms are arranged in graded sizes, from small to large, and as folk art, they are really charming.The surface of these lasts is beautifully burnished from use, and the deep color is most likely from oxidation as well as from years of  handling.

Most likely these tabi forms date to the early twentieth century, perhaps earlier.

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