A Kaki Shibu Dipped Hemp Bag: Patches
early twentieth century
27" x 12 1/4", 68.5 cm x 31 cm
This is an old bag of a common type that was used for various household purposes in old Japan. It is hand stitched entirely of hemp cloth which has been dipped in kaki shibu or green persimmon tannin which gives the surface a rich, red-brown color. Because kaki shibu coats the cloth's fibers rather than dyes them, the hemp cloth of this bag has been made stiff, or feels starched, from its immersion in green persimmon tannin.
The bag here is shown inside-out to reveal its lovely cotton patches: the pale brown color of the patches indicates that the bag was patched before it was dipped into the dye: dyeing in kaki shibu was often done to add strength to the fibers of the cloth, especially as the cloth is more and more used.
The twined hemp cord which was meant to crimp closed the top of the bag is still intact. Note some surface abrasion seen in the light-colored areas to the bag, shown in the detail photographs included on this post.
A beautiful thing.