A Mid Century Pieced Zanshi Kotatsugake: Printed Corduroy Patches
mid twentieth century
67" x 68", 170 cm x 173 cm
In old Japan, a table-shaped brazier or kotatsu, was used to help heat interior spaces. Heavy cloth was piled on the square table top to trap heat, and family members would sit around the table, their legs tucked under the cloth draped over the kotatsu. These heat-catching cloths are called kotatsugake.
This one is strange and lovely. On one side we see that it is constructed from five panels of zanshi ori or cotton that is woven from left over yarns in colors of yellows, greens and blues. Hand stitched to this surface are bold patches of cotton: three are red, white and blue striped fragments and the fourth is a machine-aided kasuri cotton showing a roundel of flowers super-imposed on a field of stripes.
The reverse shows a field of bold plaid cotton. Two of its edges are made of printed, cotton corduroy fabric, part of which can also be seen on the proper, left hand side of the front of this kotatsugake. The piece is hand stitched with some areas that have been reinforced by machine stitching, which makes perfect sense being that this piece was constructed in the mid twentieth century.
A large textile from old Japan, this is a curious and wonderful mix of hand woven and commercially produced textiles, and it shows that the tradition of hand stitching every day textiles endured well into the mid twentieth century.
A lovely and interesting old textile.