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Archives for January, 2011

A Pieced, Sheer Cotton Koshimaki

January 29, 2011

Two days ago, New York City was hit with a tremendous snowfall.  Although the blizzard threw the city in disarray and created havoc at the local airports, the blanket of snow on the city streets is lovely, the snow-muffled city noises are welcome–and the diffused light reflected off the snow lends a soft, cool glow to interior spaces.

And that’s why today I am showing this wonderful, piece constructed sheer cotton indigo dyed koshimaki–a kind of woman’s undergarment–against the silvery winter light.  The piecing and the translucency of the koshimaki is shown off to good advantage when back lit.I love the cotton of this koshimaki with its wiggly warp yarns which create something of a visual texture: weavers who are reading this will know how this erratic warp effect is achieved.I also like the shadowy look of these photos–and how the back lighting shows off the seams of the koshimaki.  Obviously this underskirt was sewn from left over pieces.  The center, opaque square is a piece of indigo dyed cotton.

Wonderful looking, isn’t it?It measures 20″ x 44″ or 51 cm x 111.5 cm and dates to the mid twentieth century or thereabouts.

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An Extraordinary Sakiori Hanten: Hemp Warp, Cotton Weft, Sashiko Stitched Sleeves

January 26, 2011

This sakiori hanten has it all: indigo cotton rag weft, hemp warp, great condition, nice proportions, good mending– and a fine, old age.   These characteristics make for a grade A sakiori garment.What sends it over the top, however, are the asagi (pale blue) cotton sleeves which are densely sashiko stitched and so worn that the stitches seem embedded in the fibers of the cloth.Isn’t this sleeve, below, a thing of beauty?  The color, the texture, the patina, the wear–and when paired with the coat itself, it looks even better.It’s interesting that such “fancy” sleeves were attached to such a hardy work coat.  Sleeves were put on and taken off coats during their lifetime, but these seem as if they were attached to this coat for a very long time.   Unless, of course, they were taken from another garment and affixed to this one at some point.  This is highly possible.Since the sleeves ARE so fancy, it has me wondering if this garment was worn by a rural person to go to town or on special occasions.In my estimation, if you are looking for a superb sakiori garment, you’d want to see a bast warp, an indigo cotton rag weft and you’ll want it to have some age.  It has to be in good condition, of course.Sakiori garments are difficult place in time: they were worn from the late eighteenth century well into the mid twentieth century, so one needs to use conjecture to date such garments.  Unless, of course, you are given some kind of history from the family who owned the garment.   This is not the case with this one, though.  I’d guess this to be from the 1930s or so.  It may be older; it may be younger.  There’s just no way of zeroing in on an exact date in this case.It measures 117 cm x 112 cm or 46″ x 44″.

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