An Eccentrically Sashiko Stitched Furoshiki: Almost Free-Form
ca. mid twentieth century
64" x 54", 162.5 cm x 137 cm
This large, sashiko stitched cotton furoshiki is really charming, quite odd, and very beautiful in its "non-conformist" stitching.
Those of you who know sashiko, the traditional Japanese running stitch, know that when it is stitched on to cloth in decorative patterns the stitching is uniform as are the patterns, which are codified. Looking at any number of sashiko stitched textiles, the quality of the stitching is miraculously the same from piece to piece, even though each cloth was stitched by different hands. The technique of sashiko stitching follows a strict set of guidelines which are strictly adhered to.
Not so in this case. Here we see a quite large traditional, Japanese wrapping cloth or furoshiki which is stitched from four pieces of commercially produced black cotton. But what is so surprising is the wildly "expressive" sashiko stitching, a riff on the chrysanthemum motif, the stitching radiating from each of the furoshiki's four corners.
The sashiko stitching here does not follow any rules or guidelines: the stitches are long and loose, the chrysanthemum motif veers off course, the motif looking more like a hallucination of a chrysanthemum than a depiction. There was not great care taken in the making of this sashiko as some of the stitches are broken or missing.
Who stitched this? And why in this crazy way?
These are the unanswerable questions which build mystery, and which imbue a cloth like this with its power.
Wonderful, strange and recommended.