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Switches of Hemp Fiber

April 8, 2010

Today I am showing something akin to yarn: nicely braided and twisted skeins of hemp fiber which are waiting to be plied into weavable yarn.HempBlog1The ten skeins sit atop a tansu and beneath a beautiful, early 20th century child’s Omi jofu hemp kimono with a lavish semamori or stitched, protective amulet–and under the hemp switches is a marvelous curiosity: it is a 19th century indigo dyed koyori (twisted paper) braided bag which used to hold boxes containing Japanese swords.HempBlog1a


HempBlog1cIsn’t that small cascade of braiding, above, just beautiful? Doesn’t it resemble some kind of marvelous insect?HempBlog1dThis is a beautiful study of natural, bast texture.  The color is oddly beautiful, kind of like a slightly oxidized brass.HempBlog1e

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A Stack of Omi Jofu Zabutons

March 31, 2010

I love antique Japanese zabuton, which are traditional cushions that are still very much in daily use in Japan.  Here is a stack of fine, old ones that are made from the marvelously good Omi jofu, a kind of super fine hemp and ramie kasuri (ikat) from Shiga Prefecture.

Zabuton1aAren’t they beautiful?  The warm tone of the indigo and the very good kasuri is just wonderful–as is the old, cotton batting which fills out the cushions.  These old zabuton are thin with batting and they don’t provide a lot of  “cushion.”  Newer, commercial zabuton are quite thick and bouncy, but in old Japan, when cotton was expensive, the padding was minimal, as can be seen in these examples shown here.Zabuton1

Zabuton1bNote the contrasting, red cotton threads used to “quilt” the cushions.  Notice, as well, the lush pattern created mainly of folding fans and plum blossoms, both tradtional Japanese design motives.Zabuton1cI estimate that these cushions date to the 1920s or 1930s; for having been used and for having such age they are still in very good condition and are still amazingly attractive–and they are still very much able to be used in the home.  Zabuton1dThere are 11 of them and each measures 11″ x 21″/ 28 cm x 53.5 cm.

Just gorgeous.

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