Furoshiki (wrapping cloth)
Cotton (homespun)
Tsutsugaki (hand drawn paste resist)

This may have been a bride’s furoshiki, meant to carry part of her trousseau. The auspicious pattern of scrolling vines (karakusa) has a very long history in Japan, and is believed to have come from China. The endless tendrils and newly sprouting leaves are symbolic of continuing family lineage, and, by extension, of fertility.

Although slightly difficult to see here, the ground of the furoshiki is dyed green, with the vines in light blue and outlines in white. Green did not exist as a natural vegetable dye in Japan, so the ground would have been dyed yellow, and then overdyed with indigo.

Highly cherished wedding trousseau textiles were sometimes preserved unused, but there are a few signs that this furoshiki (app. 54″ x 44″) saw at least some use. Above, there are two spots where abrasion has partially rubbed away the dye. Possibly the furoshiki was used to carry a bulky item – perhaps a box – a corner of which protruded, and then shifted in transit, exposing those two spots to more punishment than the rest of the cloth.