Japanese doll in balloon Daily Japanese Textile IMG_8525

Infant aloft in balloon
Silk, paper, wadding, gofun (powdered shell), metal, hair
Hand painted; probably safflower dye and chemical purple dye

Goodbye to 2015!

On this, the last day of 2015, Daily Japanese Textile would like to thank all its readers, and wish everyone a happy and healthy 2016.

Japanese doll in balloon close up Daily Japanese Textiles IMG_8528


boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining open front Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6353

Boy’s kimono
Cotton, cotton padding
Double kasuri, stenciling (?)

This boy’s kimono has a very traditional double kasuri outer, but a charming western-flavored lining.

boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining closed back Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6352

The western influence notwithstanding, puppies in snow are an old Japanese design theme, and the Japanese snowmen are called yuki daruma – snow daruma – and thus would not have the traditional western top hats, carrot noses, scarves or tree branch arms.

boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining inside out Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6357

The undated photo below gives some idea of the popularity of kasuri kimonos such as this one for young boys’ everyday wear.

early 20th century school boys wearing kasuri

Ordinarily, these kimonos would have an unpatterned lining. This lining was probably a special treat that both the parent and the child enjoyed.

boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining snowman Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6359

Only at the shoulders of the lining are a few slap-dash stitches visible.

boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining shoulder stitching Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6358

A close up of the double kasuri.

boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining kasuri close up Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6361

A close up of the lining material.

boy's double kasuri with puppies, snowmen lining puppy close up Daily Japanese Textile IMG_6363

Undated photo of young boy in photo studio wearing similar kasuri kimono and matching hat.

young japanese boy on trike wearing kasuri, matching hat

Hokusai’s painting of puppies in snow.

Hokusai puppies in snow

mallet fukusa Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3004

Fukusa (gift cover)
Silk, gilt thread
Dyed, embroidered, couching

Fukusa are placed over gifts as part of the presentation process. Often the design on the fukusa bears a relationship to the nature of the gift. Since this fukusa depicts the seven treasures, it may have been meant to cover a wedding gift, for example. This is a small fukusa – only 11″ x 12″, so it is intriguing to think what gift or gifts it might have covered.

The rich deep purple appears to be hon murasaki, a dye derived from the gromwell root that was much loved, but difficult to process, expensive, and fugitive. Much information about this fukusa remains unknown, including whether it was originally a fukusa, or is a skillfully recycled fragment from a very luxurious gown.

However, the reverse of the fukusa (below), likely dyed with what is now very faded and discolored safflower, contains some important information.

mallet fukusa reverse Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3015

This inscription indicates that it was donated to a temple following the owner’s death. Below, on the first line to the right, is the date of the inscription: seventh year of Kansei (an era within the Edo period), the seventh lunar month, which places the donation at around 1796. As noted in a previous posting, this is the latest possible date of the fukusa. If the fukusa was among the owner’s possessions since childhood, or part of an inheritance, it could be substantially older.

mallet fukusa date Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3013

The next portion (below) is written in fragments of sentences [right to left]:
This temple’s twentieth
Genchi-in Hakudou (priestess’s name)
Acceptance of the offering
Twenty disciples

mallet fukusa this temple... Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3012

On the left side of the fukusa, the inscription continues:
This temple’s twenty-fifth (priest)
Reishin Nikkai (possibly Reishin Gekkai)

A possible interpretation is that in commemoration of the death of Genchi-in Hakudou, the twentieth priestess, twenty of her disciples donated the fukusa to the temple (or were present at the donation), and the twenty-fifth priest (or priestess) took charge of formally accepting the donation.

mallet fukusa toritsuginin... Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3011

The stitches in the hat of invisibility are sewn in such a way as to hint at the texture and three dimensionality of the hat. Simple satin stitch could have been used to fill in the space, but some of the stitchwork is arranged to emphasize the hat’s conical shape.

mallet fukusa hat Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3007

The soft, loose, untwisted threads seen here lost popularity in the later Edo period.

mallet fukusa cape of invisibility Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3009

The cloves, though very small, are minutely detailed.

mallet fukusa cloves Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3008

For the reading of the inscription, Daily Japanese Textile was very fortunate to have the invaluable assistance of a person who wishes to remain anonymous.

reversible sashiko hanten HIDA Daily Japanese Textile IMG_0013

Cotton (homespun)
Sashiko, stenciling

Like many of the firemen’s garments already shown here, this hanten is layered and sashiko-stitched, but it is not clearly labeled as belonging to any firemen’s group.

reversible sashiko hanten HI Daily Japanese Textile IMG_0014

In keeping with the bold graphic style of many happi and hanten, there is a single large crest at the center back and a design that encircles the hemline. In the crest is the character hi – 比 – and at the hem the character ta – 田 – is placed on an angle, disguising its practical purpose. The name Hida is not unusual in Japan.

reversible sashiko hanten TA Daily Japanese Textile IMG_0016

The jacket is completely reversible. When turned inside out, the design is completely different. The character at the top, 富, is probably read tomi.

reversible sashiko hanten TOMI Daily Japanese Textile IMG_0021

All three characters have been rendered with some artistic license. The left ‘foot’ of the word hi turns up to accommodate the circle; the ‘bracket’ at the top of tomi enfolds nearly the whole character. Craftsmen had reference books showing how to write characters in different styles. The design below tomi has been harder to identify.

reversible sashiko hanten fiber close up Daily Japanese Textile IMG_0026

man's shibori juban back Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1729

Man’s juban

This shibori technique is referred to as mino shibori because the lines that radiate from the neck resemble the straw raincoats, or mino, worn in traditional Japan.

man's shibori juban front Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1731

This juban is an under layer, but the mino technique, seen in outer wear, is associated with festival use.

man's shibori juban back detail Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1724

man's shibori juban fiber close up Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1718

nagabakama - kataginu, hakama - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1783

Nagabakama (long hakama)
Asa, whalebone, koyori (paper thread)
Edo komon (small scale stenciling); pigment, hand painted

For formal occasions, samurai might wear hakama (divided skirt) whose legs were so long as to actually trail behind the wearer. Because of the resulting difficulty of navigation, the effect of the extra length was not only to promote the slow, dignified movement appropriate to a formal occasion, but also to impede possible assassination attempts. In this two piece ensemble, called a kamishimo (literally, upper and lower), the length of the kataginu from neck to waist is approximately 28 inches, while the length of the hakama from waist to hem is 64 inches.

nagabakama - expanded legs - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1792

Above, the legs have been pulled to their widest to give some idea of the volume of fabric. These are close to 20 inches wide.

Below, the kataginu has been lifted in order to better show the length of the hakama. The front of the kataginu (unseen) has light paper reinforcement; the winged shape of the kataginu is maintained by long, thin, flexible material. In some instances bamboo is used; in this case whale bone has been employed.

nagabakama - kataginu lifted - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1791

This angled piece goes against the small of the back. The Edo komon material is wrapped around a light, hard wooden core, probably paulownia. The folds at each side are typical of hakama.

nagabakama - back board - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1781

Below is a close-up of the crest on the folded front of the kataginu. Note the fine paint work on the crest.

nagabakama - crest - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1775

Here, the fact that the fibers are obscured unevenly by the color indicates that pigment, not dye, has been applied.

nagabakama - pigment - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1779

Below, a kabuki actor in the role of a samurai in billowing nagabakama that trail behind him. For an earlier posting on koyori kamishimo, click here.


5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1272

Wedding futon cover
Cotton (homespun)
Tsutsugaki (rice paste resist), hand painted; dyes and pigments

This very colorful bed cover is decorated with the seven treasures, an auspicious design meant to bring good fortune to the newlywed couple. Pride of place is given to the cape of invisibility, whose filaments are used as a device to unify the scattered treasures.

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - invisibility cape - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1293

The most detailed artistic work, however, has been lavished on the treasure bag at the bottom. The realism employed, particularly in the shading of the amusing chrysanthemum leaves that form the mouth of the bag, marks this as probably Meiji period.  Its state of preservation is testament to the reverence with which it was treated.  It was probably seldom used.

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - treasure bag - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1275

The scholar’s scroll:

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - scholar scroll - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1282

The lucky mallet:

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - mallet - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1286

A highly stylized clove:

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - clove - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1288

The flaming jewel, or pearl:

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - flaming jewel - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1280

The family crest:

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - aoi crest - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1300

A fiber close-up:

5 panel wedding futon w 7 treasures - fiber close up - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1306

Like other designs, such as the phoenix and paulownia or the shishi and peony, the seven treasures theme can be found on other tsutsugaki, in strikingly similar compositions and color combinations. For example, below is a yogi from New Mexico’s Museum of International Folk Art, which is far more elaborate than the five paneled futon cover seen here. A furoshiki echoing this design, but simplified because of its smaller size, can be seen in Country Textiles of Japan: The Art of Tsutsugaki by Reiko Mochinaga Brandon.

yogi w seven treasures Museum of International Folk Art .org

sodenashi shibori safflower dyed - back - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1732

Sodenashi hanjuban (sleeveless half length underkimono)
Cotton (homespun), chirimen and tsumugi silk
Shibori, kata yuzen, damask weave

This hanjuban is composed of several high quality remnants.

sodenashi shibori safflower dyed - front - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1738

The main body is dyed with safflower and decorated in shibori. Safflower bonds easily with silk, and creates the warm red with undertones of yellow that the Japanese were so fond of. Cotton dyed with safflower generally achieves a shade of pink, such as that seen here.

sodenashi shibori safflower dyed - fiber close up - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1743

The very soft purple material at the hips appears to be silk, but on closer inspection turns out to be figured cotton. The very smooth nature of silk makes it more suited to damask weave. Figured cotton is unusual.

sodenashi shibori safflower dyed - figured cotton - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1750

The highly stylized chrysanthemum below looks as though it might date to the first two decades of the twentieth century.

sodenashi shibori safflower dyed - fiber close up - Daily Japanese Textile IMG_1756

uchishiki from kosode Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3329

Uchishiki (Buddhist altar cloth)
Figured silk (rinzu), gilt thread, cotton (backing)
Stenciled kanoko shibori, embroidery, couched gilt thread

Originally, this was a kosode, but it was donated to a Buddhist temple, where its panels were unsewn and then resewn into a flat, more or less square shape. The design appears to be the tree of life – a central slim tree that branches out broadly to the perimeters of the cloth – which enjoyed international popularity along the Pacific trade routes. There are three pairs of kanji – four in safflower dyed silk thread, and two in couched gilt thread. One reads ‘age’, one reads ‘joy’; one has proven difficult to decipher.

uchishiki - 2 kanji safflower - upper left corner Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3335

In Kosode: 16th – 19th Century Textiles from the Nomura Collection, Amanda Meyer Stinchecum writes about uchishiki:

Since in feudal society women ranked far lower than men, their clothing was not apt to be … cherished. Commonly when a woman died, one of her garments would be presented to the temple where she had worhipped, in return for prayers for her salvation. Many of these garments were inscribed on the lining with the woman’s posthumous Buddhist name and the date of presentation, but once donated they would be cut up for priests’ vestments (kesa), altar cloths (uchishiki), or temple banners (ban), and in the process the original inscriptions might be lost or separated from the fabric. Even those inscriptions that remained attached tell only the date of death of the garment’s owner; the kosode itself might have been made in her youth or even handed down to her from an earlier generation.”

uchishiki - kanji upper right corner kanji safflower IMG_3333

The four kanji at the top of the uchishiki are likely in their original locations, and were formerly the left and right sleeves, and left and right center panels of the kosode. The lower right red silk kanji is from a separate panel, and may have been the left front sleeve. The integration of kanji into kosode design was notable in the 17th and 18th centuries. Often there was a reference to classical literature in the kanji chosen. This would have been an extremely expensive and time-consuming garment, and would have been worn by a woman of very high social rank.

uchishiki - kanji - center back gold kanji Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3334

Some of the couched threads have come loose with time, but the safflower dyed threads have all remained in place. Much of the design is rendered in stenciled kanoko, which was meant to mimic shibori kanoko. Stenciled kanoko was less labor-intensive than shibori kanoko, but it is believed that the change to stenciling over time was due to style preferences rather than monetary considerations.

uchishiki - lower right corner kanji gold thread Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3330

The back of this kosode has no inscription, unfortunately, but interestingly we can see that the couched thread kanji were reinforced on the back, probably to help support the extra weight imposed by the gold threads.

outline of kanji on reverse Daily Japanese Textile IMG_3327

Daily Japanese Textile would like to extend deepest appreciation to Midori Sato for her reading of the calligraphy.

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