A Pair of Momihiki: Recycled Tsutsugaki Cloth
ca. early twentieth century
each leg: 31" x 16", 78.5 cm x 40.5 cm
Momohiki are a kind of tight-fitting leggings or trousers that were worn all over Japan by people in all lines of work, whether they be farmers or laborers, in the country or the city. Momohiki were usually worn under a hanten or noragai which is a work coat.
Like the pair shown here, momohiki are usually constructed of a complex pattern of many pieces of cloth, in this case indigo dyed cotton. As can be seen on the accompanying photos, there are a great number of odd-sized pieces that are fit together, almost puzzle-like, to create this simple, every day garment.
What sets this pair of momohiki apart from the rest is the addition of the details of tsutstugaki dyed cotton, notably to fashion the tie and for some of the panels and gussets on the top part of the trousers.
With the addition of this precious, decorated cloth to these simple, every day trousers, we are left to wonder if the maker or wearer just felt lucky to have come across these scraps and fashioned a pair of pants from them, or was this cloth saved especially to make this pair of momohikI? If the latter is true, most likely this pair was special and would have been worn on special occasions or perhaps to town, to sell goods or to engage in whatever business was being done.
In any case, this is a really attractive and unusual pair of hand stitched, cotton momohiki from old Japan.