osemamori - tortoise Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9352

Periodically, Daily Japanese Textile has shown children’s garments with small talismanic designs, such as the one above, sewn at the back of the neck. Sometimes these designs are also sewn onto the base of the two small ribbons at the chest of the garment. The one above is design shorthand for a turtle. Since the turtle was said to live for 10,000 years, it was a visual invocation of longevity for the tiny wearer. Note the knotted tassle. Meant to signal the seaweed tail of an old turtle, it also adds three dimensionality and playfulness to the design.

Just as there were sample books of kimono designs, happi (commercial jacket) designs, and banner designs, there were also sample books of talismans. Below is one such book, in actuality little bigger than the palm of a hand. The characters read ‘spine amulet booklet’.

book of osemamori Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9349

On this page, the rear view of a traditional origami crane on the left, and a simple boat on the right.
osemamori - paper crane, boat Daily Japanese Textile

The book consists of long rectangular pages which have been folded in half and then handbound, so each page is double sided. By accident, the second edge of this one page did not get bound, so we can see what the embroidery looks like on the reverse side. The thick dense fiber of the washi paper is the perfect material to stand up to repeated piercing by the embroidery needle and handling by the embroiderer.
osemamori - paper crane, boat - reverse Daily Japanese Textile

osemamori - geometric; drying net Daily Japanese Textile IMG_9344

Variations of the design on the left are often seen on the chest ties – once on each ribbon, where the ribbon is anchored to the garment. The design on the right is seen much less often as a talisman, although it is a popular design motif in general. The crosshatched triangle is a fishing net draped over a pole (an oar?) to dry. The long airborne crosses traditionally signal geese in flight.

osemamori - pinwheel, ikebana Daily Japanese Textile

Above, the design on the left is a child’s pinwheel. The one on the right is very unusual, partly because it introduces applique – flat applique for a pair of pruning shears and padded applique to indicate the roundness of the vase. The ikebana motif itself is very unusual. Could it be meant for the child of an ikebana master? Is it simply a novel design?

This book was probably made more or less around the turn of the 20th century.

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