A Sashiko Stitched Shonai Sodenashi: Thick Cotton Work Vest
early to mid twentieth century
31" x 18", 78.75 cm x 45.75 cm
This is a beautiful example of a well-worn, completely sashiko stitched sodenashi or sleeveless work vest from the Shonai region of Yamagata prefecture which is known for this style of dense, all-over, geometric based sashiko stitching.
As can be seen by the dark blue color on the collar, shoulder areas and back of the vest, there were once collar pieces and reinforcement patches to these areas that have been removed, so effectively this garment is "unfinished." Still, what we have here is a real achievement of intense sashiko stitching.
The stitches form a network of diamond shapes; in fact, this diamond pattern is based on the box-shaped grain measure called masu, and in Shonai the scale of this masu pattern was altered according to sex and hierarchy.
The cloth itself is beautiful hand loomed cotton of heavy weight; the cotton is most likely woven from hand spun yarns. There is an overall patina from wear and some general light fading to this garment which accentuates the sashiko stitching embedded into every square inch of this vest.