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An Assortment of Antique Komebukuro or “Rice Bags”

Written on February 18, 2009

Here is a corner of the Sri showroom with a selection of komebukuro, or rice bags, which date from the late nineteenth century to the early part of the twentieth.  Rice bags are so called as they were fashioned from scraps of cloth to create a “fancy” look as they were used to comport rice grains-and sometimes beans, etc.–to Buddhist temple festivals as tribute.

Komebukuro is a general term for these pieced bags, but the jury is still out if each of these was meant to bring rice to temple festivals.  It is my hunch that in certain cases they were also used for home use.

I love the bottom piecing of the komebukuro pictured center, above.  As well, the large, silk piece, below is really fabulous with its botanical dyes, chief among them are the orange/safflower, purple/gromwell root, blue/indigo.  Note the purple shibori pieces at “4 o’clock” and “7 o’clock” on this bag.  Really lovely.

One of the bags below is stitched “Zensuke”, the name of the owner.  I bought a group of these komebukuro which came from the same family, and they hail from Japan’s rural north.

On the photo below, the two bags on the right are not komebukuro: the far right bag is a fabulous, hand dyed and hand painted 19th century chirimen (crepe) silk bag, while sitting next to it on its left is a funny little early 20th century bag composed of indigo dyed kasuri overlaid with commercially produced lace!

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  1. Comment by Rachel Biel Taibi:

    What a beautiful blog! I’m adding you on to my blog roll. If you would like to write an article as a guest, I would love to have you talk about your textiles! Rachel

    February 20, 2009 @ 6:59 pm