arm band Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4843

Arm band / amulet carrier(?)
Silk velvet, metal (brass?), gilt paper thread

Very little can be said with certitude about this arm band. On the front, it has a beautifully engraved mitsutomoe (three commas) crest.

arm band - front of clasp Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4838

On the back is a woman’s name: Shizu. Women were known to sometimes write their names on their belongings.

arm band - back of clasp IMG_4828

In the photo below is the clasp opening. The clasp is puzzle-like. First the tongue must be inserted, then the entire side of the clasp with the tongue must be slid along grooves until it locks into place. When closed, the clasp is hidden.  At the lower left of the picture, a sliver of white is visible. That is the opening in the velvet fabric.

arm band - clasp opening Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4841

When the slit is held open, the armband’s luxurious lining is visible.

arm band - hidden opening Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4833

In the photograph displaying the clasp, a flash of white paper can be seen in the opening on the underside of the velvet. If the owner had wanted the slit sewn up, it would have been. The slit was deliberately left open so this paper could be inserted and pulled out at will. The paper is all but illegible, but the triangle in the center seems to point to a talismanic purpose. (Readers who can decipher the writing are encouraged to write in.) Since women did not typically wear arm bands, this may not have been worn, but instead kept in close proximity, perhaps in a handbag or other personal item. In any case, the paper was clearly treated very reverently, wrapped in silk velvet and gilt thread, both expensive materials; and the arm band itself seems to have been very important to the owner.

arm band - talisman inside Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4831