A Resist Dyed Heavily Sashiko Stitched Fireman's Coat: Nineteenth Century

$635.00 USD

mid to late nineteenth century
shoulder to hem x sleeve tip to sleeve tip: 33 1/2" x 48", 85 cm x 122 cm

This is a unique opportunity on this website to acquire an antique, indigo dyed cotton, sashiko stitched, resist dyed fireman's jacket.

This particular one is beautiful not only for its design and relatively good condition, but it is wonderful because you can see vestiges of wear that have no doubt been ingrained on the coat over its lifetime: perhaps several decades of wear have created these areas of fading and mild abrasion.

As is quite well known, in 19th century Japan firemen wore heavy jackets that were made of several layers of cotton that were sashiko stitched all over in the most regular and meticulous way possible: it is actually unimaginable how precise and flawless this dense sashiko stitching is done.

The layers of cotton were essential in the effectiveness of this jacket when it was used in firefighting: the jacket would be thoroughly doused with water--the layers held in a good deal of water--which protected the fireman while he tried to contain a blaze.

Situated on the top, back of the jacket is a resist dyed kanji or Chinese character while encircling the bottom of the jacket are more kanji, these ones highly stylized and tilted at a 45 degree angle. This is done for graphic, artistic effect.

On the front of the coat, on the lapels we also see kanji which no doubt relates to the location of the regiment of firefighters which is the origin of this coat. 

What is interesting about these resist dyed designs is how they were conceived: the actual design of these kanji was longer than what we see here. The reason for this is that when the jacket was sashiko stitched it was taken into account that the design would "shrink" so in elongating the design there was compensation for this change in shape to it. Rather ingenious.

This jacket no doubt dates to the late 19th century and it appears that the kamihimo or ties to the jacket might be original to it.

Very recommended.