A Densely Sashiko Stitched Boro Kotatsugake: Hearth Cover
early to mid twentieth century
55" x 53", 139.5 cm x 134.5 cm
This very distressed, heavily sashiko stitched and layered square cotton cloth was used as an accessory for the kotatsu, a central heating element--a heated table, of sorts--common in the homes of old Japan.
Cloth covers would be layered over the hearth and under a tabletop which sat on top of it. The family gathering around the hearth and the layers of heavy cloth which acted as insulation for the heat kept the family warm.
On this very abraded, sashiko stitched cloth it is easy to see that the family who owned this spent a good deal of time huddled around the kotatsu: the wear patterns on each of the two sides show this very clearly.
And have a look at the amazing quantity of sashiko stitching that was applied to this cotton, quilt-weight cloth: a dizzying density of stitching embellishes and strengthens this very handsome, utilitarian cotton folk textile.
Note the holes, abrasions and wear to the piece which are amply illustrated in the accompanying detail photos, and, truth be told, add a rustic charm to this very handsome cloth from old Japan. Some passages of machine stitching, not unusual for pieces of this age.