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Three Shinafu or Linden Bark Cloth Panels

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?

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Mottainai The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan

November 6, 2011

The exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden, Mottainai, The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan opened on 4 November.  Here are some installation shots.
I’m exhibiting with my friend, Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto.   Kei and I decided that I would show indigo dyed cotton boro pieces and she would show bast fiber and paper pieces.  The items I have contributed to the show can be seen below.Above and below is a large, woven cotton boro mosquito netting or kaya.

Above and below are sashiko stitched pieces.  Centrally place above is a large, sashiko stitched kotatugake.  To the left and right are garments from Yamagata prefecture.Stitched aprons and zokin can be seen above.

Above and below are sakiori garments.

Above is pictured a boro yogi or sleeping kimono, while below you can see noragi or work coats.Below is a fantastic boro futonji or futon cover.This piece, below, a shinafu or linden fiber tsunobukuro or horn bag is filled with balls of shredded indigo dyed cotton yarn and twisted paper yarn.   Kei brought this to the show to act as a transition between her bast fiber textiles and my indigo dyed cotton ones.  It’s an amazing object.  Kei’s other textiles can be seen in the images below.

Above and below are some woven paper garments.  On the photo, above, situated on the right is an okuso zakkuri or a coat made of woven hemp waste.  Below, seen in the middle, is a fujifu or woven wisteria garment and a shinafu or linden fiber garment to its left.

Below are two elm fiber garments: to the right is a traditional Ainu attush, to the left is an unusual dochugi or traveling coat, made from ohyo or elm fiber.  Since this dochugi is made from traditional Ainu cloth, we can assume that the cloth was traded with the Ainu by a merchant from Honsu island.

A marvelous, resist dyed ramie kazuki from Yamagata prefecture can be seen above and below.  A kazuki is a kimono-shaped veil which was worn on the head by upper class women.Below are repurposed paper items. A splendid bashofu or banana fiber kimono from Okinawa can be seen below.All of the pieces are for sale through the Portland Japanese Garden.  If any are interesting to you, please let me know and I will put you in touch with the Garden.

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