A Pieced Cotton Yukata: Hand Stitched from Tenugui
mid to late twentieth century
53" x 48", 134.5 cm x 122 cm
A tenugui is a traditional cotton hand towel that is ubiquitous in Japan because of its many uses. It can be used to mop sweat from a brow in summer; it can be worn on the head, kerchief-like, when work is being done; it can be twisted and worn as a sweat band like sushi chefs do: there are endless ways to use a tenugui.
Sometimes these printed, oblong lengths of cotton are used by stores as a give away, sometimes as gifts at new year, other time for store promotions. Sometimes tenugui are brought back from trips as souvenirs if they are imprinted with a specialized image specific to certain region or town.
This yukata, a casual, unlined, summer kimono, is hand stitched from many tenugui, each the same, and all seeming to be promoting a department store. The images are charming: a porter wearing a kasuri kimono and an apron, a kimono merchant with rolls of cloth and the facade of the store itself.
The yukata, very carefully hand stitched, seems not to have been worn.
It is a seriously charming piece of hand work and one that begs to be worn on a daily basis, which is in the spirit of the purpose of a tenugui.
A delightful garment that reminds us of old Japan.