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A Thick, Layered and Patched Kotatsugake with Intensely Tight Sashiko Stitching

November 18, 2008

A kotatsu is a kind of brazier that was centrally placed in the Japanese house; in the olden days, it was the only source of heat in Japanese homes.  To provide direct heat and comfort, an armature would be placed over the brazier and a blanket, or kotatsugake, would be placed over this heater and family members would sit around the brazier with their lower bodies tucked under the kotatsugake.  Kotatsugake are still very much a part of Japanese society these days, however now they are electric and thus there is no need for the kotatsu.

This fabulous kotatsugake is wildly rich with sashiko stitches and large, cotton patches.  The thing itself is sewn from many layers of recycled cotton clothing; it is quite heavy.  Note the wonderful, oversized, resist dyed plum blossom that dominates the top, center of the kotatsugake.

Unusual is the change of direction of the rows of sashiko stitching: notice the ‘mitered’ corner effect created by two converging directions of sashiko.

The size of this kotatsugake is  61″ x 53″, 155 cm x 135 cm, which is a fairly standard size.  Sakiori ‘rugs’ were, in fact, kotatsugake, not rugs, however it is more convenient to refer to them as rugs since this has become their current function, especially in Western interiors.

The reverse side of this piece is equally beautiful to the side discussed above.  I’m thrilled to have this piece, which I think is a superb example of a sashiko stitched kotatsugake.

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