Written on February 19, 2011
What a marvelous thing: this is a Western styled boy’s–or man’s–suit sewn entirely from scraps of burlap. It probably dates from the early twentieth century.The suit is unlined, and as you an imagine, it would be very scratchy on the skin were under garments not worn–or even if they were. From seeing this suit, with its non-Japanese buttons and pockets, with its belt loops, with its Western style collar and other non-traditional details, we know that this suit was made in an era when Western influence pervaded Japan, starting in the late nineteenth century.Even though the suit is made from salvaged cloth of the lowest possible quality, most likely this was a dressy suit for its owner who we have to surmise had very little money or social standing.Notice that the burlap is mended and is threadbare. Imagine the life of the person who owned this, especially if this was his “Sunday best.”The suit is small; you’d think it would fit an adolescent boy. Possibly it belonged to a man, but there is no way to know. The sewn details are beautiful. The entire suit is heart-breakingly lovely.