A Crepe Silk Koto Cover: Pines and Butterfly Crest
early twentieth century
88" x 12 1/2", 223 cm x 31.5 cm
A koto is a long, fairly flat and narrow, rectangular shaped, traditional Japanese stringed instrument. This very long and narrow silk sheath is a cover for a koto.
The face of the cloth is of grey colored chirimen, or crepe, silk which has been resist dyed in two ways: on the bottom of the silk cover are delicately rendered sprigs of pine that have been dyed in the yuzen method which is a free hand resist technique which is used to decorate kimono. Note flecks of embroidered gold that highlight areas of the cluster of pine. At the top of the silk sheath is a very bold kamon or family crest, a stylized butterfly, that was dyed using a stencil.
The reverse of this long cloth is a lining which is made of a very lightweight silk which was dyed in benibana or safflower, a natural dyestuff often used in old Japan. As is the often the case with old benibana, the color is mottled from light fading over time.
In good, used condition, this piece can easily be used for home decor, or it can be reconfigured and used in a art or fashion project.
A lovely thing.