A Large Exuberantly Decorated Boro Furoshiki: Tsutsugaki Dyed
ca. late nineteenth, early twentieth century
53 1/2" x 49", 136 cm x 124.5 cm
This is a wonderful, freely decorated indigo dyed cotton furoshiki, a traditional wrapping/ carrying/ storage cloth that was a staple in old Japan, and still can be seen quite a lot today, too.
The technique used to resist dye this piece is called tsutsugaki. Tsutsugaki is a method whereby an artisan draws directly onto cloth using a paper cone filled with rice paste; this cone is much like a pastry bag. The rice paste resists dye and creates patterns or pictures, depending on the artist's intent.
In this case we see big, splashy flowers--three of them--amid a field of the large-scale karakusa or trailing vine motif. The image is big and playful and certainly catches the eye. Note the great care taken to depict the two large flowers quite different from one another, one being light and one being dark.
If you look carefully at the attached detail photos it is plain to see that this furoshiki shows small holes and tears equally distributed over its surface with one large patch affixed to the proper back of this piece.
Still, even with this surface damage, this is a wonderful old textile. The cotton is hand loomed and appears to be home spun, and the entire piece is hand stitched together.
A fantastic and happy textile from old Japan, with good color and design.