A Length of Stencil Dyed Gauzy Cotton: Chuusen
early twentieth century
46" x 12 3/4", 117 cm x 32.5 cm
This is a really beautiful length of very gauzy, lightweight cotton that has been dyed in the chuusen method, a technique that was used to dye traditional tenugui, the very versatile, ubiquitous hand towel of old Japan, which is still used widely in Japan today.
Chuusen dyeing relies on hand cut stencils set on a pile of cloth. Dye is poured onto the stencil which sits atop a pile of folded cloth and a primitive vacuum machine sucks the dye through all the layers of cloth, thus producing a repeat pattern onto a long length of cotton.
The length here shows a variant on the tatewaku or rising steam pattern, a traditional Japanese one. The way the pattern is rendered makes it appear that there are two patterns, one layered on top of the other. Note one fairly large patch which is hand stitched to the fragile base cotton.
A really lovely length of cloth in a wonderfully realized pattern which is dyed in a beautiful, traditional way.