A Richly Symbolic Length of Complex Katazome Cotton: Shochikubai

$95.00 USD

late nineteenth, early twentieth century
33 3/4" x 13 1/4", 85.5 cm x 33.5 cm

This is a good length of beautifully dyed katazome cotton that shows a particularly complex design that utilizes an equally complex dyeing technique.

The grey and black ground shows a background of pine branches and needles. Superimposed on the ground are resist dyed, white roundels one showing the trio of design motifs of plum, pine and bamboo.

Together these three images are known in Japan as shochikubai. 

is a classic, auspicious pattern and it is often used for cloth to be included in a bridal trousseau.  The plum is the first bloom to burst forth from the winter's ice and is symbol of strength and courage, the bamboo bends but does not break so it is a symbol of resilience, and the pine, of course conveys a wish for longevity.  Also, pine needles fall in pairs, and thus they symbolize conjugal fidelity.

The other roundel shows the tortoise and crane, both motifs convey a wish for long life and the crane has another meaning which is that of a happy marriage: cranes mate for life.

The cloth is in very good condition and it is a wonderful pattern that is beautifully realized. It is rare and powerful in its symbolic associations.