A Heavily Sashiko Stitched Shonai Sodenashi: Farm Vest

$795.00 USD

early twentieth century
30" x 21", 76 cm x 53.5 cm

This magnificently designed and executed indigo dyed cotton sleeveless garment is entirely sashiko stitched: from the white-on-blue diagonal band, to the white-on-blue shoulder pad to the indigo dyed body of the garment whose rippled and tight texture is due to intensely concentrated blue-on-blue sashiko stitching.

It is from the Shonai area of Yamagata prefecture in Japan's rural northeastern or Tohoku region.

This sorihiki sodenashi (sled-pulling sleeveless garment) was used by men for hauling a sled behind them and the sashiko stitched diagonal strap that covers the front of the garment was placed there to cushion the body from the force of the strap and to add durability to the garment.

It was said that a garment of this type would have been debuted by a man during the first occasion of a new year's farm work around 10 January. There would have been some pride in this debut as it signaled that his wife spent weeks or months hand stitching this garment for him.

As this was a traditional type of work garment in the Shonai area there were many variations on it so it must have been something of a delight to compare one's sorihiki sodenashi with those of one's neighbors.

The white pattern on the shoulder and the diagonal strap is that of the kaki no hana or persimmon flower; in this case we see it done in two different proportions and densities. The almost invisible pattern on the indigo dyed part is a dense and meticulously stitched step design.

When looking at the back of the vest we see light fading and abrasion from wear, an exciting detail which traces part of the real history of this work garment and allows us a bit of a window into its actual use.

A marvelous, traditional garment from Shonai, Yamagata and one of very good quality and condition.

Very recommended.