A Safflower Dyed Itajime Silk Han Juban: Two Patterns
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
22 1/2" x 45", 57 cm x 114.5 cm
This beautifully dyed and constructed silk garment is a han juban or a half under kimono. It dates to the 19th century.
The bodice of this han juban is what is so interesting. It is made of chirimen or crepe silk which has been dyed in the itajime or kyoukechi method, a complex dyeing technique using pressure exerted onto cloth which is sandwiched between hand carved boards: the pressure from the carved boards resists dye and imprints the cloth with a pattern.
This particular han juban is dyed in a botanical safflower or benibana dye which can yield an orange color as can be seen here. The front and the back are made of two different patterns: the pattern on the front of the garment shows cart wheels and cherry blossoms (two ancient and traditional design motifs) rendered fancifully in many different ways, each one aiming to mimic shibori dyeing. On the back is a pattern based on a flower and butterfly design, this one, too, attempts to suggest shibori or tie dye. In each case, note that the pattern is based on a repeat of mirror images. This mirrored image is the result of dyeing in the kyoukechi method.
Note as well the beautiful, hand spun cotton lining, also dyed in benibana: in this case the color is a mottled pink, typical of benibana dye as it ages. This lining is a beautiful detail.
The sleeves are made of a white, figured, damask silk which show a patina of wear and age as well as some ingrained surface wear. The collar, too, is of white silk that also show a dinginess from age.
A simply beautiful garment, and one that speak volumes about every day life in old Japan.