Stenciled wefts (meisen)

This hitoe is patterned with oxcart wheels in waves, an allusion to the imperial aristocracy of the Heian period (794 – 1185), when ox carts were the stately mode of transportation for the highborn. Ox cart wheels were periodically submerged in water to revitalize and clean them. This well known motif is often called Genji guruma (Genji wheels), a reference to The Tale of Genji, which details the intrigues of Heian court life.

A closer look reveals that the warp threads are very fine, while the weft threads are much thicker. The bright blue warp threads fade into the background, and allow the patterned weft threads to take the major role.