A Length of Tsutsugaki Dyed Cotton: Mottled Dye
ca. late nineteenth century
40" x 13", 101.5 cm x 33 cm
Shown here is a length of tsutsugaki dyed cotton; tsutsugaki is a free hand paste resist technique wherein an artist draws with rice paste directly onto cloth, the areas which are drawn are resistant to dye.
This panel is from a furoshiki, or a traditional wrapping cloth. The top area is a warm brown color and the rest of the cloth is a steel grey-blue color. Within the steel grey-blue are we can see a simply rendered bamboo and plum.
These two motifs are a caption from a traditional, three-motif design called shochikubai which would also include an image of pine. Shochikubai is highly auspicious: pine means longevity and conjugal fidelity, bamboo is resilience as it bends but never breaks, and plum is courage as it is the first flower to emerge from winter ice.
The cotton is nice and thick, hand loomed cloth of good quality, and, as can be seen, the dye shows loss and mottling from age.