A Beautiful Hemp Komebukuro: Indigo Dyed Omi Jofu
early twentieth century
as shown: 5" x 6" x 6", 12.5 cm x 15 cm x 15 cm
This is a really charming, old drawstring bag that is sewn from about four pieces of indigo dyed kasuri or ikat hemp cloth, probably from Omi, a leading center of high quality hemp or ramie kasuri cloth in old Japan.
The bag is fully lined in old, hand loomed, undyed cotton, and the loops which hold the purple dyed cotton drawstring are all intact; the drawstring seems original to the bag.
The motives woven into the body of the bag seem to be shochikubai, or the triad of bamboo, pine and plum blossoms, which is a cocktail of auspiciousness. Plum shows courage as its blossoms burst forth from under ice, the bamboo is resilience since it bends but does not break and the pine is a symbol of long life--and of a faithful marriage as its needles fall in pairs.
This is a wonderful old bag, which was probably used as a komebukuro. A komebukuro is a bag used to carry token offerings of dried rice or beans to a temple or shrine festival, and usually these offering bags were festive in nature, and were often sewn from contrasting fragments of cotton or hemp cloth.