Futon cover
Tsumugi silk
Stenciled, paste resist

This futon cover has multiple auspicious symbols, including the chrysanthemum, wisteria, scrolling vines and interlocking circles, and so was probably a wedding futon. Most often, cotton is associated with indigo, and silk with safflower dye, because each has a chemical affinity for the other. The opposite combinations are also possible, but not as common. Here, indigo has been paired with silk, probably as a luxury in honor of the special occasion. The dark gray petals of the central and peripheral chrysanthemums are probably achieved with sumi ink. By the small chrysanthemums at the top left and right the rice paste resist was not perfectly controlled, and the motif is not crisp, but the bottom two chrysanthemums, and the nearby wisteria petals, are precisely executed, demonstrating the skill of both the stencil cutter and the dyer. The close-up below shows that the dots outlining the petals of the central chrysanthemum are little bigger than two warp and two weft threads.

The full futon cover, below, has clearly undergone a lot of wear. It has a number of rips, patches and substantial discoloration. That it was not cut up and reused for other purposes is an indication that it was treasured and preserved in the family for many years.