A Hemp or Ramie Safflower Dyed Han Juban: Mottling
early twentieth century
24" x 28", 61 cm x 71 cm
This is a han juban or a half under kimono which is hand stitched of either hemp or ramie which has been dyed in benibana or safflower-based dye. The hemp or ramie yarns are hand plied both on warp and weft. The collar is made from hand spun cotton.
Safflower dye can take on many colors, from pale yellow to raging fuchsia depending on the way the dyestuff is processed and what mordant is used to set the dyed cloth.
In this case of this han juban, we see a rich pink color that has become mottled and faded over time: safflower dye is extremely light fugitive and it is easily is affected by wear, as this piece is.
Almost all used, benibana dyed hemp or ramie undergarments such as this one show a mottled pink color; benibana is a delicate dye which is easily affected by light wear. Notice, however, that the dyed cotton collar is much more stable in hue than the body of the garment, showing that where benibana is concerned, asa or hemp/ramie cloth does not dye as effectively as cotton.
Notice, too, one or two small, black stains.
A delicately hued beauty reminiscent of daily life in old Japan.