A Pair of Sashiko Stitched Akutogake: Rustic Heel Guards
ca. mid twentieth century
each: 4 1/4" x 13 1/4", 11 cm x 33.5 cm
This is a pair of sashiko stitched akutogake or heel guards. In old Japan people wore accessories to give protection to the body while working, traveling on foot, and the like. Hand guards, gaiters of shin guards, instep guards and heel guards were worn as added protection against abrasion.
These akutogake were placed around the heel of the foot and tied in front. They are hand stitched from white or undyed cotton and have been sashiko stitched in deep blue, thick, cotton thread.
The motif stitched onto the guards is interesting and dense. It could be a variant on the classic yabane or arrow feather motif, or it could simply be an attractive block of zig-zag. In any case, the density and the quality of the stitching are beautiful.
By looking at the accompanying photographs we can notice just a bit of wear, and slight abrasion to the pair of heel guards which shows that they were lightly worn by someone in old Japan.A really lovely set of a quickly disappearing hand made accessory from the past.