A Mesh Hemp Steaming Cloth: Soft Gradient Center Coloration
ca. mid to late twentieth century
62" x 35 1/2", 157.5 cm x 90
This large cloth is hand woven from wiry, flat, hemp yarns, the weaving being loose so as to create a screen or a mesh.
Please note that the bottom finished hem shows damage and loss: there is a 10", 25.5 cm length of unraveling of the seam and a frayed missing piece measuring 2 1/2" x 3", 16.25 cm x 17 cm at the bottom, right hand seam area.
This cloth was used in steaming, and laxly woven hemp cloth was--and still is--used in Japan for steaming anything that needs to be steamed, from use in food preparation to any other kind of manufacture that utilizes steaming in its production.
The softly darkened central, ovoid form is the result of this cloth sitting directly on top of a steaming pot, and of course this subtle, rounded and gently toned darkened image which is in contrast to a paler ground does call to mind the work of Mark Rothko (okay, perhaps a sacrilegious or too-easy one for some) or the lawon cloth of Sumatra.
In any case, this is really beautiful happenstance, it is a lovely play of neutrals--and for being a utilitarian cloth with no drive toward beauty, this is quite an elegant end to a cloth used for steaming.Recommended.