Cut Paper

This stencil reads “Ryogoku” (両国, or both provinces), using the older and more complex form of the second character. Ryogoku, an area in central Tokyo, is best known as the heart of the world of sumo.

In the close-up below, the blank square is completely free-floating, held in place by fine threads sandwiched between the top and bottom layers of paper.

Since most commercial garments (such as hanten) are stenciled with a personal name or company name, while this is stenciled with a geographical name, it seems possible that this stencil was created for use on a community-oriented garment. It might have been intended for a hanten to be worn at a citywide festival by inhabitants of the Ryogoku area, for example.

This stencil can no longer be used as it has lost a section near its lower left hand corner (see top photograph).

When held up to the light, extensive if faint Japanese script in sumi ink can be seen going in several directions (not shown here), indicating that this paper may originally have been used for a completely different purpose.