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A Thick, Stenciled Paper 19th Century Box Cover: Clothing-Like Closures

Written on May 29, 2012

Shown here today is a 19th century thick paper box cover which is seen folded shut on the photo above.  Below, you can see the box cover which is partially opened–when fully opened, it becomes a five-sided cube.  There is no bottom as this paper cover, or yutan, was meant to “dress” a box as can be seen on this link here.

The front of the yutan looks very similar to a garment what with its cotton detailing and two closures, which is not dissimilar to that of a coat or jacket.The yutan is composed of two layers of thick paper that are hand stitched together.  The interior is stained with a traditional Japanese dyestuff, kaki shibu or green persimmon tannin.  The exterior seems to be colored by a kind of paint or pigment.Below the yutan is partially opened again to give a view of its see its two side “walls.”  Like on the first photo on this post, above, which is the proper “back wall” of the box cover, a stenciled family crest showing stylized oak leaves, dominates.This old yutan does in fact open fully, however it’s brittle from age, so I didn’t force it open for the photo, below.  When folded shut, as shown in the first photo, the size is 19″ x 10″ or 48 cm x 25.5 cm.


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