Apron (maegake)
Cotton, silk

This apron has seen so much wear that it might be called “boro”, or rag. Some of the material is very old (possibly mid-late 1800s), and some is of more recent vintage (pre-war).

Fourteen separate materials make up this apron. The largest is a remnant of beautiful stencil work; one of the smallest pieces is double kasuri. The photograph below shows the stencil. Dyed identically on both sides in two shades of indigo, this would have been an expensive piece when new. The popular design combines a goose head with the V in which geese travel, according to John Dower in The Elements of Japanese Design. With the added flourish of the circle at the base, the design is called the ‘knotted goose’.

The large dark patch on the back of the apron is shown below in close up. This very soft cotton patch appears to be monochrome, but on closer inspection, there are small glints of light among the dark threads. When magnified, it can be seen that the light comes from the sparing insertion of a bit of luxury in the form of fine silk threads.

The apron strings are made of two completely different materials.

In the Hiroshige print below, The Famous Teahouse at Mariko, a woman can be seen serving guests while wearing an apron to prevent damage to her kimono.