I like this early Meiji katazome for its bold design of chrysanthemum flowers and its beautiful hand spun texture. I also think its really amazing how strong the indigo remains after over 120 years. This design tells a lot about how katazome designs were created. You can clearly see the small connecting lines in the design that were made by small pieces of the original paper stencil. These small connecting lines helped hold the stencil together when an artisan was pushing rice paste through the stencil to deposit the resist. This second photo also shows the spot where the stencil was overlapped to create one continuous design.
At first glance these patches seem ordinary. The first is a patch of small sashiko stitches and the second a normal enough blue patch with haphazard stitching holding the two pieces of fabric together. When you turn the piece over it reveals two beautiful patches made from beautiful Edo period katazome.
The next patch has a beautiful double design of black leaves and branches on an indigo ground, as well as, resist dyed cherry or plum trees with stylized blossoms. I can’t even begin to understand the process of dying something like this.
I think these patches elevate this beautiful Edo period katazome, and I am in complete reverence of the masterful hands that created these fabrics so many years ago.
This is a furoshiki, or “carrying cloth” made from three sections of an old Japanese banner. It was produced in the early to mid 20th century. and was dyed using fermented persimmon dye. The kanji was produced using a technique called tsutsugaki. This furoshiki is a great example of the Japanese idea of mottainai or “nothing wasted.” Notice the third section of the furoshiki where the kanji are upside down.
This early Meiji period katazome is made of indigo dyed cotton that has been hand spun and hand woven. The fabric is thick and has been worn soft by years of use. This piece was probably the top of a futonji and has been pieced together from 15 small pieces of the same fabric. It has also been mended with several large patches.
This last photo shows the irregular hand spun threads that produce a fabric with such amazing weight and texture.
This furoshiki or “carrying cloth” dates to the Meiji period and was made from hand spun and hand woven cotton fabric. The crane was expertly dyed using natural indigo. This type of decoration is known as tsutsugaki it was created by a dyer who used a paper cone or “tsutsu”. The tsutsu was used to apply a mixture of ground rice bran, rice flour, salt, and water onto the fabric to create a resist. This resist was washed away after dying to reveal the design. It must have taken several applications of rice paste and many dips in the indigo dye bath to create the colors in this furoshiki.
This furoshiki may have started its life as a futonji or “padded futon cover”. The symbolism of the crane was one often used on items made to be given to a bride and groom as a wedding gift. It has several large repairs that attest its use over the years. The repairs have all been mended using hand spun and hand woven cotton. The large patch in the middle of the furoshiki is made of very thick course homespun.
Sashiko is a form of traditional Japanese embroidery originally used to reinforce garments and as a means of repair. In the northern regions of Japan garments were made stronger and warmer by layering cloth and stitching the layers together with long running stitches. This embroidery served a utilitarian purpose but also became a way to add decorative patterns and interest to garments and carrying cloths.
Three of these sashiko furoshiki were created from hand spun and handwoven cotton which has been dyed with natural indigo. the forth furoshiki with the star pattern is made from hand dyed commercially produced cotton.
I recently found this late Edo or early Meiji period obi made from hand spun cotton. The obi has been dyed using indigo over dyed with a yellow to create a green color. The pattern was created using a katagami or “stencil” to deposit rice paste onto the fabric before dying. The obi is made from two lengths of fabric sewn together in the middle. I think it was made this way because the person who made it was taking advantage of leftover fabric.
I love this geometric repeat pattern. I think it could really work as a modern textile. I would like to try to reproduce this fabric in the future. The colors that come out in this last photo show off the colors possible when over dying indigo.
Here is a new piece of cotton zanshi fabric I found. Zanshiori is the fabric woven at the end of a bolt that has a random pattern due to the use of leftover threads. I love the feel of this fabric. the knots give it a homemade rustic feel. The worn colors of this piece are also really nice. some of the strips seem like they may have once been red or pink probably from a commercial dye that was prone to fade over time. the indigo blue has held up well and still holds a deep dark blue in some spots.
this fabric can be purchased at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/158501070/antique-handwoven-japanese-zanshi-indigo?ref=shop_home_active