A Large Indigo Dyed Hemp Furoshiki: Rustic Chain Stitch Sashiko
early twentieth century
49" x 52", 124.5 cm x 132 cm
This well-worn and beautifully rustic indigo dyed hemp textile is a furoshiki, which is a traditional carrying/hauling/storage cloth which was used all over old Japan, and is still quite often seen in modern Japan.
The cloth is composed of four panels of thickly plied, hand woven, indigo dyed hemp fiber and the cloth itself is "springy" from the hand woven, heavy hemp yarns. The large central image is a family crest that shows a pilgrim's hat: this and the kanji or Chinese characters on the proper upper left and lower left corners are all chain stitched onto the base cloth using white cotton thread. As can be seen by the damaged surface of this furoshiki, it is not surprising that some of the sashiko stitching is broken.
The cloth has been used very hard as can be easily seen by the extensive surface abrasion, the profusion of holes, the distended center portion of the furoshiki and the pulled corners, which are distorted from being tied in knots.
Still, this is a really wonderful old country textile with a great deal of character and certainly a fascinating story to tell, if we were only able to hear it.