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Beautifully Intricate and Elaborate Katazome Dyed Cloth

Written on June 10, 2011

It’s nice to see graceful, floral pattens in summer–somehow they seem cooling to the eye.  Today I’m showing a fabulously elaborate example of katazome dyeing that incorporates indigo, bengara, an iron oxide based dye material and a grey/black dye.
The motif is a familiar one in old Japan, that of the arabesque, or karakusa as it is called.  Often this karakusa motif is highly stylized as can be seen here, but in this case its rendered quite naturalistically.The design is beautifully delicate and luxurious in its details.  This is a small textile–it measures 38″ x 25″ or 96.5 cm x 63.5 cm.  It  is probably recycled from a larger piece, most likely a futon cover.As it is shown here, this wonderful katazome futonji was repurposed and is now a cotton zabuton, or seating cushion.  It is backed with a subtle, zanshi-ori cotton or a fabric woven from leftover yarns and its original cotton wadding has been removed.The pattern and design of this cloth has a kind of delicate intensity that reminds me of batik, the wax-resist cloth from Indonesia.This piece dates from the mid to late nineteenth century.Notice the marvelous tooth to the cotton fibers: clearly the cotton yarns were hand spun and the cloth was hand woven.A sensational old katazome textile–still fresh and beautiful.

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  1. Comment by paula:

    love this! i keep imagining it (returned to its former life as a zabuton) next to my new Loll Design andironack (made from 312 recycled plastic bottles) but i _Know_ a precious fabric like this can’t be left on a porch. ^^

    June 11, 2011 @ 11:40 pm