Infant’s hitotsumi (1 panel width garment for an infant)
Asa, wool, silk
Handpainted; dyes and pigments

Infants’ garments shown in Daily Japanese Textile up until now have tended to illustrate unmistakable wishes for wealth, long life and good fortune. This little hitotsumi, by contrast, depicts a simple and charming scene of a mother doing daily chores with the assistance of her young child, with their home close by, and ships in the distance. The craggy pine tree could be taken as an auspicious symbol, but is unaccompanied by the plum and bamboo that form the traditional “three friends of the cold”.

This hitotsumi has seen quite a bit of wear. Lighter spots across the back indicate friction, where the color – probably sumi ink – was literally rubbed away. There are also regularly placed needle holes at the shoulders and waist, indicating that excess material was once stitched down in tucks to fit a younger infant. Those tucks were unstitched when the baby grew, to get more wear out of the garment.

Here are some closer views of the focal point of the design. The flowers on the tree (cherry?) by the corner of the thatched roof are rendered with small blobs of white paint on the fabric.

The semamori (back talisman) below points to the right, indicating this hitotsumi was worn by a little girl.

The red squares used to provide a bit of closure on the long sleeves are quite unusual. Usually sleeves have only surface decoration. The squares have some gold couched thread along with the chain stitch embroidery, so possibly this was added as a touch of luxury. The insides of the sleeve openings are also lined in a fine red wool, and the collar is lined in a lightweight red silk.

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