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A Complex and Beautiful, Mid-19th Century Katazome Dyed Han Juban made of Samples

Written on October 27, 2010

This intricately stencil resist dyed han juban is a feast for the eyes: what variety is there in the many, very complex patterns dyed in exquisitely clear, blue indigo.The color is beautiful: the powdery, rich, sky-blue color is called asagi.  And the delicacy of the rendering of the many patterns shown is poetic.Each of the patterns is based on a design concept wherein a patterned motif is seen through a mist of vertical bars; this “screening” of the motif adds air and light to the design.This han juban, or half-under kimono, is cotton and was made in the mid nineteenth century, during the last years of the Edo Period (1603-1868).  The katazome dyeing seen on this example is masterful.Can you see bats flying in the image above?  Swallows, or tsubame, are seen below, among other traditional motives.Peonies and geese are seen below.Within the swirling arabesques, below,  is the mokume or woodgrain pattern.These patterns are cooling to the eye.  The reason for so many patterns is that this han juban was sewn from a dyer’s sampler, a length of cloth from which special orders would be taken.The lyricism of these patterns is not quite cloying; the designer was too smart for something saccharine, and delivered images that are ethereal and structured at the same time.

I could admire this piece for hours.  It’s peaceful,  inventive and beautiful.   And its age adds something mysterious to its beauty.

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  1. Comment by hudsondebb:

    Oh! Another one of those “gasp!’ pieces! every little thing about that piece is just wonderful.
    Every time I stop by here I wonder where these beautiful treasures spend their lives before they make their way to you? How many can there possibly be out there in the world, because there seems to be a steady stream of them coming through your blog! I love stopping by here to see what is new in your collection, thank you for sharing them.

    October 27, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  2. Comment by Patricia G:

    Very beautiful! A variety of blues and I love how the black bleeds into the blue lines.

    October 28, 2010 @ 8:06 am

  3. Comment by Jean Betts:

    Exquisite! One wonders if there is still the level of skill “out there” to achieve such detailed work. Thank you.

    October 29, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

  4. Comment by velma:

    yes, this piece is lovely. i like the dye technique sampler idea, then made into a beautifully cool garment. reminds me somehow of seersucker!

    October 29, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  5. Comment by Nancy R:

    I’m speechless. This is magnificent!

    November 9, 2010 @ 9:29 am