Single panel of a yukata (casual summer kimono)
Cotton
Multiple shibori techniques

This panel seems to depict sweetfish (ayu), so traditional a fish that it is mentioned in Japanese literature as early as the eighth century in the Manyoshu, the earliest anthology of Japanese poetry. The cool, fresh water invoked by the yukata design would have been a welcome sight during the hot and humid Japanese summer.

Even after garments were damaged and could no longer be worn, the salvageable parts, like this panel, were kept and reused. Sometimes old fragments are found stitched inside obis to give them added strength, and so-called saki-ori obis are made of very fine strips of salvaged cloth that are used as weft threads. Children’s clothes were often made of artistically constructed fragments, rice bags were made of swatch-size pieces, and when cloth could no longer be worn at all, it was made into rags for housekeeping.

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