A Magnificent Resist Dyed Peacock: Futon Cover
late nineteenth century
71″ x 37 1/2″, 180.5 cm x 95 cm
What a lavish, complex and unusual image is presented on this three panel, indigo dyed cotton futon cover.
When we first found this piece in Japan, the assumption was that it was a phoenix, which is often seen in Japanese folk textiles. Upon closer inspection it seemed clear that this was not a phoenix, but a peacock, which is rarely seen on Japanese folk textiles and which makes this piece a bit more interesting than had the image have been a phoenix.
Likewise, at first glance, the resist dyeing seemed to have been done with stencils because of the hard edges and the interplay of light and dark--a stencil resist dyed image of this size, while not unheard of, is very rare. Closer inspection seems to reveal that this peacock was drawn directly onto the hand spun, hand loomed cotton using a technique called tsutsugaki, a freehand resist dyeing method.
And what a marvelous result: the amount of detail shown in the feathers; the artfully staggered tones of white, light blue and dark blue; the beautifully rendered image; the richness of the tones which evoke colors--all of these combined form a very splendid and beautiful result. And not to forget the unusual image of the peacock: this is quite something.
As can be seen, there is wear and fading to the indigo dyed cotton, and there is a fairly prominently placed, small hole. These flaws do not detract from the overall magnificence of this piece, which is truly beautiful.