A Length of Stenciled Cotton: Bengara or Iron Oxide Derived Pigment Dye

$115.00 USD

early twentieth century
33" x 13", 84 cm x 33 cm

This is a length of stencil dyed cotton which was dyed using an iron oxide derived pigment dye called bengara in Japan.

The complex design is interesting and layered. The pattern shows a whirling background of arabesques that are, in fact, stylized bamboo. On the tips of the "bamboo," sprouting out from it are small pine trees.

The flowers depicted are meant to evoke a plum blossom but are constructed from pine trees with center of bamboo leaves.

The design triad of bamboo, pine and plum is called shochikubai.

Shochikubai is a classic, auspicious pattern and it is often used for cloth to be included in a bridal trousseau.  The plum is the first bloom to burst forth from the winter's ice and is symbol of strength, the bamboo bends but does not break so it is a symbol of resilience, and the pine, of course conveys a wish for longevity.

The length of this cloth shows some light surface wear but otherwise is in good, used condition.