March 2, 2012
I love shinafu which is cloth woven from fibers gleaned from the inner bark of the linden tree. And I recognize how precious it is–of the bast fibers woven in Japan, shina was less produced than hemp or ramie, and carries with it a feeling of rural life.In Japan it is also recognized as being valuable and shinafu is always pricier than hemp or ramie cloth.Shinafu has a distinctive copper colored cast and a very wiry fiber: rarely was it used for clothing. It’s just too scratchy. But because the fibers are tough, it made excellent work items.A colleague in Japan offered me these panels which I bought: I was really happy to have them. When I received them and had a look, it was clear to me that these are undone tsunobukuro, or horn bags. Horn bags are so called because they are fashioned in such a way that they appear to have two “horns” at the top of the bag.And you can tell that these panels were made in the twentieth century. Look below and you can see the script in romaji or Western writing, “No. something-or-other.”I suppose whomever brought these pieces to market thought they’d be more interesting as panels than as horn bags. I kind of wish they were left as horn bags, but I’m really glad to have them. I’m always on the look out for shinafu.Nice, huh?