Written on February 8, 2013
These are some of my favorite objects from old Japan: recycled paper tabi patterns, tabi being traditional split-toe socks.
A few years ago I came across another set of these, so when I found this group, I was thrilled. I think you can probably see why. They’re really beautiful, and they have a rich and soulful presence.
The photo, above, is a pattern for a shin guard, or kyahan, which were an essential part of daily costume in old Japan–for farmers and elite people alike.
You can see that some of the patterns are for the soles of the tabi, while others are for the sides, or the “boot” part of these split-toe shoe-socks.
They’re all beautiful–at least to me. Some patterns are made on lightweight washi while others are on thick, card stock.
They probably date to the late nineteenth century or so.