A Chuusen Dyed Cloth: Hand Stitched
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
27 1/2" x 17", 70 cm x 43 cm
This is a hand stitched, finished piece of gauzy weight cotton that has been dyed in a method called chuusen which relies on stencils and a primitive vacuum machine to transfer a pattern to the cloth.
The basis of the chuusen-dyed design is the hexagon which is a stand-in for the tortoise shell, a symbol of long life. Each of the hexagonal units shown on the cloth contains a traditional Japanese design motif, each of which is slightly blurred, a characteristic of the chuusen dyeing technique.
This is a wonderfully graphic Japanese folk textile whose original purpose is unknown, although cloths of this size were used as towels or sometimes as a mat for a baby.