A Length of Cotton and Fiddlehead Fern Cloth: Zenmai ori

$185.00 USD

early twentieth century
54" x 14 1/2", 137 cm x 37 cm

This is a length of commercially woven cloth whose weft yarns are said to have the fiber from fiddlehead ferns spun into them.

This is a rare type of Japanese cloth: in order for ferns to be eaten after foraging, the fuzzy fibers need to be removed before cooking.  These fibers are coffered and then spun into yarn, in this case cotton, and are then woven as cloth.

The cloth is rather thinly woven and has a papery or stiff feel; the original intended purpose of the cloth is unknown but in the center of the length we can see what appears to be part of a machine embroidered family crest. The cloth is hand stitched from two separate pieces.

The cloth is an interesting and rare example of how traditional Japanese cloth often utilizes the most meager materials, never overlooking the usefulness in something that might appear at first to be disposable or unwanted. This type of weaving was done in Japan's cold and rural Tohoku region and here is a video about this type of weaving.

Recommended.