A Sakiori Kotatsugake: Rag Woven Hearth Cover in Rich Colors
early to mid twentieth century
54 1/4" x 56", 137.5 cm x 142.25 cm
This richly colored, rag woven textile is a kotatsugake or a cover for the kotatsu, a traditional, heated table, a heat source in old Japan. The kotatsu would be covered in a blanket or blankets, of which this is one. Members of a family would gather around it and slide their legs and lower bodies under the kotatsugake to share warmth. Electric kotatsugake, or kotatsu covers, are still used to this day in many Japanese homes.
This is rag woven kotatsugake is simply beautiful, and it has been used fairly hard as can be seen on the few threadbare or weak spots on the textile, the few snags of rag yarn and the cloth border which has become ragged and broken with time.
Often kotatsugake are stitched from one full bolt of hand woven sakiori cloth. This one is piece from more than one bolt, as can be seen by the greyish passage on the left-hand side or second column from the left. Likewise, the orange-colored columns are pieced together to some extent which adds a bit of weakness or instability to the piece: what this means is that this kotatsugake needs to be given a bit more care than had it not been pieced. It is not recommended to use this piece as a rug that will endure a lot of traffic.
Still, this is a really good sakiori kotatsugake: great color, great design and good condition.