A Length of Indigo Dyed Katazome Cotton: Crane, Tortoise and Butterfly
ca. early twentieth century
64" x 12 3/4", 162.5 cm x 32.5 cm
This is a deeply dyed, indigo cotton cloth which is patterned using stencils. The dyeing is of the rustic variety as white images are not crystal clear--they are veined with stray dye, giving the cloth a batik-like look.
But the pattern is interesting.
The pattern is based on marumon, or designs stylized within a circle. There are three six motifs crammed into this circle-based design: the crane is paired with pine, the tortoise is paired with bamboo and a butterfly, whose circle-frame is actually a stylized snowflake.
Of course both the crane and the tortoise are symbols wishing a long life. Pine, too, is a wish for long life; the bamboo is a symbol of resilience since it bends but does not break. The background is a trailing vine, or arabesque, or karakusa motif, often seen on old bedding cottons, as this one is.
Just lovely, and rich in symbolism.