A Piece Constructed 19th Century Silk Furoshiki: Botanical Dyes
mid nineteenth century
36" x 42", 91.5 cm x 106.75 cm
What a strikingly graphic, hand-pieced, antique silk furoshiki. It is completely dyed in botanical dyes, as was discussed on our blog entry here.
The type of featherweight silks that were used to construct this traditional wrapping cloth are the type that were used in old Japan to fashion undergarments, and it is likely that this furoshiki was made of pieces that were either left over from that process or that were recycled from old, intact juban, or undergarments.
The colors are predominantly purple (gromwell root dye), orange (safflower dye), blue (indigo dye) and green (overdyed indigo). The silks are both plain weave and rinzu or damask and the colors are solid and figured.
The figured cloth are katazome or stencil resist dyed and have a look at the detail photos that accompany this post to see the beautiful variety of patterns shown on this patchwork. Note especially the "dotted" pattern: this is katazome dyed cotton that is meant to mimic shibori. Note as well the proper left, middle area on the edge of the piece: here you will note a missing piece of cotton, and what shows through is the lining of safflower dyed silk.
The lining, also shown in detail here, is mottled from light fading. Safflower dye is light fugitive and often old examples are stained or show irregular coloration as this one does.
The condition is fragile as old silk becomes frail over time, but it is not too fragile to handle or to enjoy.
Recommended. A wonderful piece of old Japan.