A Large Page from a Semamori Cho #1: Magical Stitches
early twentieth century
8" x 11 1/4", 20 cm x 28.5 cm
In Japan, there is a certain magic associated with stitching: the very act of enclosing a body in cloth is rich in meaning and stitching a garment closed has power in it. It is no wonder that stitches applied to children’s garments are done so intentionally, and that they are meant to protect the child from harm.
These protective stitches are called semamori, and offered here today is a page from a semamori cho, or a practice album of decorative stitches that, when stitched on a child’s garment, would have been held in place one of the kimono’s two ties.
On this leaf there are sixteen different semamori which are hand stitched on to a piece of heavy card stock and these sixteen stitched amulets show a bit of the wide variety of designs that were used as semamori in old Japan.
Objects such as this are becoming increasingly difficult to find now in Japan and this particular page of semamori designs is a small treasure.