A Fantastically Complex Katazome Fragment: 19th Century
ca. mid to late nineteenth century
8" x 12 1/2", 20 cm x 31.5 cm
This is a small fragment of 19th century katazome dyed cotton, and it is an excellent one at that. The complexity of the design and the vibrance of the colors shows the skill of the artisans who collaborated in the making of this beautiful piece of cloth.
The pattern is based on kikko or tortoiseshell, the meaning, of course, is a wish for longevity. Within these hexagons are floral forms and images of the legendary, Buddhist phoenix. Flower forms are also present at the points of meeting of the hexagon shapes.
And the color: the indigo dyed blue is still rich and intense, the orange highlights are bright and there is also the presence of a grey and a black tone, so this small fragment packs in four colors, each still very much as it was when it was made more than 100 years ago.
Note, too, the variegated edges of each of the hexagons. This kind of soft or jagged edge is meant to suggest shibori or tie dyeing, which for centuries a very popular dye technique in Japan.
This is a fantastic piece of katazome--as is quite evident in the accompanying photos.