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Archives for July, 2011

An Unmade Resist Dyed Noren

July 30, 2011

The graphic quality of Japanese design–and its impact on Western design and Modern art–is well known.  This unmade, stencil resist dyed noren, a traditional curtain which often is displayed outside a shop or restaurant, has a strong modernist appeal.
You can see how the noren was dyed in one, continuous piece.  It would have been cut and arranged in order for it to display a cohesive design or motif.  This one has been cut, but not entirely, and it hasn’t yet been formed into a noren.I really love the strong geometry and the way that the design has been broken.  Visually this is really interesting. I also really like the contrast of white against inky, deep, indigo blue.  The blue color is so deep it reads black.In trying to mentally construct what the noren will look like when it is stitched and finished, it seems to me that I may be missing a piece or two.  Through time as this unmade noren has changed hands before it arrived to me, it’s quite understandable that a piece or two could have fallen by the wayside.The cotton is hand woven very tightly.  As the noren was probably going to hang outside, the cotton was woven with the intention for it to hold up against the elements.These pieces probably date to the early twentieth century.  In time I will be offering them for sale on my webshop.

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An Intricately Sashiko Stitched Maekake

July 25, 2011

A few weeks ago I showed a pair of fantastic, sashiko stitched tabi which were sitting on a very good, sashiko stitched maekake.  I’m showing that maekake today.
The pattern is a unusual: it’s a web of diamonds, the kaku shippo or “angled seven treasures” motif.The stitching is tight and the stitches are very small.  This maekake, or traditional apron, dates to the mid twentieth century or so–and it is in very good condition.

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A Cooling Shibori Yukata: Two Processes

July 21, 2011

Since it’s high summer and the heat is intense, I thought I’d show something cooling to the eye, a shibori dyed cotton yukata, an unlined, casual kimono.This yukata is dyed using two methods, which is not immediately apparent.  The first is a vertically pleated shibori technique, referred to as suji shibori.If you look at the photograph, below, you’ll see the irregularly spaced suji shibori–and then alongside the shibori you’ll notice regularly spaced vertical lines.  This is done with by applying dye directly to the cloth through a stencil.   This process is called surikomi.The suji shibori and surikomi processes are very apparent in the photos above and below.I love the “point/counterpoint” effect of the pleated, irregularly spaced shibori against the regularly spaced surikomi dyed lines.

This is a man’s yukata, most likely dyed in Arimatsu, Japan, and it dates to the early twentieth century.

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A Rajasthani Cloth Covered Vessel, a Bengali Kantha and Japanese Temari

July 17, 2011

I think this group looks good: a Bengali kantha is the backdrop to a large, Rajasthani cloth-covered appliqued lidded vessel and a group of five Japanese temari. The kantha is a lovely one: when viewed in its entirety is shows a tree of life surrounded by stylized, fanciful lotus and bird forms, as can be seen on the bottom of the photo, above.This vessel is really charming.  It measures about 10″/ 25.5 cm in diameter and it is made of a formed reed interior that has been covered in applique cotton.  Really delightful.The five colorful balls surrounding the large pot are Japanese temari.  Temari are children’s toys that were originally made from leftover threads which were wound into a ball whose exterior was adorned by a complex, geometric decoration.  These temari are probably from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth century.

It’s beautiful how harmonious these three seemingly disparate elements are.  And I think they’re a really pleasant group to view in summer.

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A Jumble of Small Indian Bags

July 13, 2011

Recently I acquired a group of small, hand stitched cotton Indian bags, mainly kantha bags from West Bengal.  They’re said to be “coin bags”, and their small size attests to this: they’re remarkably beautifully stitched and decorated.The image on the bag seen, above, is a stylized lotus, which symbolizes the universe in the world of kantha stitching.The stitching is dense, all-over, and expertly done.  The bags date to the first half of the twentieth century.  I’ll be showing one on the web shop today, and over time, I’ll be selling these one-by-one.

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A Pair of Blue-on-White Sashiko Stitched Tabi

July 9, 2011

Today I am showing a pair of exceptionally fancy, yet rustic, tabi or the traditional split-toe “socks” of Japan.  These white cotton tabi are hand sashiko-stitched in indigo dyed cotton yarn. You can see that the body of the tabi are stitched in the traditional asa-no-ha or hemp leaf pattern; the toe areas are stitched in a complex grid made of dark and light triangles.And quite unusual is the applied, diagonally placed banding stitched in the yabane or arrow feather motif: obviously this is meant to provide wear against the traditional waraji, or the hand braided straw sandals that would have been worn over these tabi.The hand stitching on these tabi is spectacularly good.  As is the condition: they seem not to have been worn.My guess is that they were made in the Tohoku region or north east area of Japan, probably some time mid-twentieth century.These tabi are sitting on an intensely sashiko stitched maekake or apron.

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An Absolutely Gorgeous Hemp Komebukuro: Benibana Dyed Details

July 6, 2011

Komebukuro–or so-called “rice bags”–which are usually made from scraps of leftover cloth and configured to convey a festive air, are hardly ever more lovely than this one, which is hand stitched from hemp cloth.This one is in pristine condition and is sewn from about 18 separate pieces of hemp cloth–and the great joy of this bag is its ultra-pale pink-colored panels, the result of benibana or safflower dyeing.The pale pink against the indigo dyed kasuri cloth needs no explanation as to why it’s so lovely.  It just is.  And note the bag’s original drawstring which is hand braided from pale blue cotton yarns.And the bottom: just lovely.  Komebukuro were used to offer dry rice or beans to temples and shrines, mainly during festival times.  The pieced effect of the bags was to convey a joyous mood.  In truth, I’ve just acquired a group of old, cotton komebukuro that, when I’ve been sorting through them, have dropped a considerable amount of old, single grains of rice.  Clearly those komebukuro had been used.This drawstring bag seems not to have been used, it measures 8″ x 7″ x7″ or 20 cm x 17.5 cm x 17.5 cm and it most certainly dates to the 19th century.

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A Length of Boro Kumanozome

July 1, 2011

This length of cotton boro fabric is really astonishing: it’s a patched and mended piece of Kumanozome, a 19th century “Op Art-like” cloth that is characterized by overlaid, undulating vertical lines that produce a moire pattern.Twice before I”ve posted about Kumanozome, a strangely beautiful cloth that I love: here are the posts.Kumanozome was made in Western Japan, in what is present day Okayama prefecture. This cloth dates to the mid to late nineteenth century.After all these years collecting and dealing Japanese country cloth, this is the first time I’ve seen an example of Kumanozome that is patched and mended as this one is.  What’s also notable about it is the relative crudeness of the dyeing: the lines are wide and imperfect.  Like most Japanese folk textiles, a good example of Kumanozome is very well done, both from the technical and visual standpoints.  This one is charmingly rough.

Pretty wonderful, isn’t it?

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