A Meiji Era Shibori Dyed Cotton Hand Towel: Shop's Tenugui

$75.00 USD

late nineteenth, early twentieth century
13 3/4" x 34", 35 cm x 86.25 cm

This is a tenugui or a traditional cotton hand towel that is ubiquitous in Japan.

This one is special because unlike most tenugui which are stencil dyed this one is dyed in beautifully-done, selectively hand dip dyed indigo shibori--and it is old, it dates to the Meiji period.

On the right we see a dense wedge of miura shibori and on the left we see a tie dyed shop name, in this case it reads, Kadono Kawamura.

The shibori on this tenugui is so well done--and this one is part of a group of variations that will be offered here over time--that it seems to suggest that the shop name might have been from a shibori dyer, a yukata broker or some other trade that relates to cloth and shibori. 

This piece is almost assuredly from Narumi/Arimatsu, a booming and powerful center of shibori production and brokering.

A tenugui is a traditional cotton hand towel that is ubiquitous in Japan because of its many uses.  It can be used to mop sweat from a brow in summer; it can be worn on the head, kerchief-like, while working; it can be twisted and worn as a sweat band like sushi chefs do: there are endless ways to use a tenugui.

Sometimes these lengths of cotton are used by stores as a give away, sometimes as gifts at new year, other time for store promotions.  Sometimes tenugui are brought back from trips as souvenirs if they are imprinted with a specialized image specific to certain region or town.

No matter its origin or original purpose this is a very handsome one, rare for its expert shibori dying and for its artful composition.