Tobacco pouch
Whale baleen*, cotton
Woven, knotted

The body of this pouch appears to be made of fine strips of bamboo, but is actually made of whale baleen. Baleen whales have no teeth. Their mouths are lined with baleen, a fibrous material which the whales use to filter food from the water.

The closure at the top of the pouch is made of printed cotton, called sarasa. Real sarasa was first brought to Japan from India and Indonesia by European merchants, and was much prized. Later sarasa was copied by the Japanese with great skill, and can be indistinguishable from imported material. This sarasa is probably Japanese.

*Daily Japanese Textile is indebted to the late Professor Tomoyuki Yamanobe, Curator Emeritus of the Textile Department at The Tokyo National Museum, for identification of this material.