A Kotatsugake or Heated Table Cover: Signs of Repetitive Wear

$345.00 USD

mid twentieth century
62" x 65 1/2", 157.5 cm x 166.5 cm 

In old Japan, a heated table or kotatsu, was used to warm interior spaces.

Heavy cloth was piled on the square table top to trap heat from the brazier under the table, and family members would sit around the table, their legs tucked under the cloth which was draped over the

These heat-catching cloths are called 

This one, although plain in appearance on first glance is actually more interesting if you look closely into it: detail photos have been posted for this purpose.

The kotatsugake has been made from recycled cloth, cotton on one side and perhaps a cotton blend on the other (abraded) side. The entire surface area of this kotatsugake has been sashiko stitched in close rows, also shown on the detail photos here.

What makes this kotatsugake a compelling folk object is the evidence of human wear.

When looking at the side that would have been the "under" side to this hearth cloth we see four evenly-spaced areas of wear to the cloth. This is significant because it shows that this kotatsugake was used regularly enough to have borne the imprint of the people who were sitting around the table: these areas of wear are exactly where the knees of sitters would be and over time the surface of the cloth has been abraded as we see it here.

This kind of detail holds powerful significance as it is some form of communication with people we will never know.

Interesting is that the finished edge of the kotatsugake is a sage green toned jersey material.

This cloth is generous in size and is a light blanket weight: it is a remarkably subtle object embedded with and enhanced by its human wear.