Mosquito netting (kaya)
Asa
Dyed, woven

The Japanese avoided mosquitoes with mosquito netting made of asa. Often they were plain green, as this one is; they were also dyed indigo, and some had stripes woven into them. Mosquito netting was woven in the same width as clothing, and numerous strips were then sewn together to make a structure of the desired size.

According to contemporary literature, although kaya kept the mosquitoes out, despite the very open weave they were also oppressive, keeping out breezes and preserving heat within the confines of the kaya.

Below is a woodblock print by ukiyo-e master Utamaro (1753 – 1806) showing a woman outside a mosquito net, and a man inside it.  There are several wonderful juxtapositions here – outside/inside, standing/sitting, man/woman, as well as the visual divide made by the seam.  The cross hatching on the man’s face and clothes give some idea of the open weave.  On an artistic level, it is an excellent device for demonstrating the artist’s and the woodblock carver’s consummate skills.

This Utamaro print depicts a collapsible mosquito net.

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