A Complex Length of Katazome: Crane, Tortoise and Shochikubai
ca. late nineteenth century
68" x 13", 172.5 cm x 33 cm
This is a fabulous piece of indigo katazome dyed cotton that shows a very complex and intricate design of highly auspicious symbols.
The turtle and crane are depicted here: both are symbols of long life, and the crane is a wish for conjugal fidelity since it mates for life. In the background can be seen 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.
You will notice the hand-sized hole at the top of the piece which has been beautifully mended with the same cloth as the base.
The katazome dyeing was done with two dyes: the base, obviously, is done in indigo and the coral colored details are the addition of benibana or safflower. The color combination is just beautiful.
Throughout the length of this piece there is a scattering of small holes, each the size of a lentil. As well, there is some surface scuffing and abrasion.Still, this is an exceptionally lovely length of katazome cotton, and the pattern is complex and loaded with auspicious images.