Kosode fragment (?)
Silk crepe, gilt thread
Yuzen dying, embroidery, couching, hand painting, stenciling

Someone thought enough of this fragment to preserve it on a purple satin pillow in what appears to be a safflower frame. Everything about this fragment bespeaks luxury: the chirimen silk, the couched gilt thread, the complex embroidery in the tortoise’s scaly skin and the fine yuzen dyeing. The small white dots behind the tortoise’s seaweed tail, (sand and stones? frothing water?), are a combination of small dots of yuzen and paperbacked metal thread. In a very small space, several labor intensive decorative techniques have been used.

This fragment is full of auspicious symbols, but some are missing. Before this material was fragmented, it is likely that the original material had a crane to match to tortoise, and pine to accompany the plum and bamboo.

Above, the long satin stitches are reinforced and held down by cross-wise stitches, breaking up the flat surface in a way that calls to mind the texture of the tortoise’s shell and scaly skin.

Delicate white stitches give the tortoise teeth and claws.

The above photograph shows the subtle shading the yuzen dyer was able to achieve in the bamboo, as well as the extremely fine white paste resist lines that help emphasize the fibrous nature of the bamboo. While most paste resist was applied with a brush, some lines were so thin they had to be applied with toothpicks.