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An Edo Period Painted Paper Carpet

Written on November 4, 2010

Today I am showing something which I consider beautiful, although I am not going to speak much about it.The reason that I am not narrating the photos I’ve posted here is that I don’t have a lot of information on this stenciled, paper carpet which dates from the late Edo Period (1603-1868). My understanding is that this type of painted rug was used by Japan’s elite for purposes related the tea ceremony.Since my interest is Japanese folk textiles, this carpet–which was used by people of means for a rarefied purpose–falls outside the category of strictly utilitarian textiles and therefore I don’t know much about it.  Still, I was highly intrigued by this piece which is made of two sheets of thick paper, inside which is a “padding” of what appears to be okuso or the refuse collected from the hemp yarn making process.

Certainly the design which has been stenciled onto the carpet is not Japanese in origin: it smacks of Central Asian tribal carpets or of Persian rugs, and, in the context of Edo Period Japan, this kind of design was meant to be an allusion to the exotic, or to something of foreign origin.I love the wear patterns on the piece; the rug is decorated on both sides, as can be seen in the photos below.The carpet measures 40 1/2″ x 25 1/2″ or 103 cm x 63.5 cm.

And of course if anyone knows more about these kind of paper carpets, and if you’d like to share your knowledge, please do.


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2 Comments

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  1. Comment by velma:

    wonderful paper, love the last shot showing the layers. i like the idea of paper carpets–

    November 6, 2010 @ 5:05 am

  2. Comment by Hand Knotted Carpet:

    I like this Info, Thank you for share with us

    November 12, 2010 @ 12:29 am