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A Rustic and Beautiful Katazome Furoshiki

Written on January 15, 2010

Shown here is an indigo dyed cotton, katazome furoshiki, or a traditional wrapping cloth.  Most likely this furoshiki, which dates to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, comes from Japan’s eastern Tohoku region.
I’m fascinated by the strange repeat pattern composed of  upward and downward pointing triangles: even though there is a logic and order to the pattern, the way in which the three panels of this cloth are stitched together somehow misalign the field of the pattern, creating a kind of syncopated “white noise” of marks.


The stencil resist dyed katazome pattern is vaguely dissonant—and very unusual and beautiful.


The folding fan, a depiction of which is shown here, is a Japanese invention; the motif is used on cloth for different reasons: in some cases the folding fan is emblazoned as a family crest, in other cases it is shown as an auspicious symbol on wedding textiles as it symbolizes the “opening of things.”  Where marriage is concerned, the folding fan motif  suggests the beginning of, or opening up of, a new life.


The rustic and crudely dyed resist is attractive, I think:  have a look at the imperfect way that the pattern is resisted–the toothy hand woven cotton and the very inky indigo color enhance these imperfections, adding a luster of strange beauty to this country textile.


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  1. Comment by Kit:

    Very beautiful piece – the imperfections and shadows in the triangles make the pattern twinkle.

    January 22, 2010 @ 9:15 am

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