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A Shibori Juban: Hand Spun Cotton and Botanical Indigo

May 24, 2011

With the weeks of rain we’ve been experiencing this spring here in New York, I had to show a shibori juban that’s all about rain, birds and a spring-like feeling.
A juban is a garment worn under a kimono; in the past they were often piece-constructed from “flashy” or contrasting textiles, many of which were “recycled.”  The bodice of this juban is of hand spun, hand woven cotton that has been shibori dyed in botanical indigo. The particular passage, shown below, feels like spring: new blossoms, a soaring bird–and  tendrils of what may be weeping cherry branches suggest rain.The indigo color of this juban is beautifully rich and clear–and the toothy, hand spun cotton is the perfect vehicle to accentuate the rich, blue color of the dye.And the rustically rendered umbrella, below, which is set in a gloomy patch of dark indigo, really matches the wet, cold, brooding weather of the east coast.
The sleeves and the eri, or collar, of this juban are made of commercially produced cotton; very often juban were made of a mixture of cloth, and, that said, very often the sleeves and collars of garments in old Japan were repeatedly taken off and replaced due to wear.On the hem of the garment, above, seen on the lower left just next to the umbrella image, you’ll see an image from Genji ko, or an incense naming game that dates back to the 11th century.  Even the partial lining of the juban, seen below, has a wonderful fragment of old shibori.  The bodice of this juban probably dates to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century–the sleeves and the collar are younger.

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Piece Constructed Textiles: A Botanically Dyed 19th Century Silk Juban and Drawstring Bags

February 8, 2011

In old Japan, hand loomed and hand dyed cloth was constantly re-purposed.  Indigo dyed cotton cloth was often hand woven in the home from yarns which were hand spun by the weaver. The time and labor which went into the creation of cloth gave it great value.  It was not a disposable commodity.  The same is true of silks, which were also re-purposed.  Silks were likely not woven at home, but their intrinsic value was understood.  Today I am showing three piece constructed bags of indigo dyed cotton and I am highlighting a marvelous, 19th century silk yose juban, or an under kimono that is constructed from disparate fragments of botanically dyed silks.What a beautiful attempt at symmetry on the top half of the back of the juban: the many small fragments of safflower (benibana) and gromwell root (shikon) dyed crepe silks are stitched together in such a way as to create an appealing, ordered design.The benibana silks are dyed mainly in the itajime or kyokechi technique, whereby fabric is pressed between hand carved boards before they are dyed, the pressure of  the carvings against each other offering a resist to the dye and creating a white, figured pattern.There are so many hand stitched fragments of chirimen, or crepe silk cloth that the area of stitching is akin to shingling.  The slight variation in tones of safflower-derived orange dye is just lovely to see.Those of you who have seen 19th century Japanese piece constructed undergarments before have noticed that the predominant color palette is based on three basic dyes: shikon (purple), benibana (orange) and variations on ai (indigo).
The front of the juban, seen below, is as lovely as the back.  And what’s wonderful about this particular juban is its very good condition–aside, of course, from its very handsome arrangement of color, pattern, and texture.


Seen by themselves, the sleeves of this garment, one of them below, are just gorgeous.The benibana dyed silk lining, seen below, is a typical feature of these old juban which were often constructed with similarly dyed linings.


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