A Length of Chuusen Dyed Gauzy Cotton: Tortoiseshell
mid twentieth century
48" x 13", 122 cm x 33 cm
This is an unfinished piece of gauzy-weight cotton that has been dyed in a method called chuusen which relies on stencils and a primitive vacuum machine to transfer a pattern to the cloth.
The basis of the chuusen-dyed design is the hexagon which is a stand-in for the tortoise shell, a symbol of long life. It is a beautifully simple repeat of hexagons of good proportion: the chuusen dyeing renders lines slightly fuzzed or uneven, which can easily be seen here.
There are a few faint stains on the front side of the piece and a very faint haze of a stain in addition, shown here, which appear darker on the reverse side.
There is a passage of hand written Japanese kanji on the bottom right hand corner of the piece, a bit faded from wear.