A Shima Cho or Stripe Album: Song Book

$545.00 USD

early twentieth century
when closed: 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 1 1/4", 21.5 cm x 14 cm x 3 cm

Shimacho means, literally, "stripe album." The small, cotton swatches contained within it are usually striped cotton, or some variation on striped cotton. In this case the swatches are affixed to the inside of a kind of song book used for performance singing.

This book shows 13 pages with swatches on each side of the page and three pages showing swatches glued to only one side. The balance of the fairly thick book is in pages of script that bear no swatches.

A shimacho is said to be an album of home weaving that a bride takes from her family home when she's married, leaves her family and begins her life in the home of her new husband's family.  Most likely this is in part true, however it is more likely that a shimacho has a broader beginning and a less prosaic life.  It is not unthinkable that a sliver of a neighbor's weaving found its way into a shimacho, or some such thing.

Often the striped cloth in a shimacho shows narrow stripes or small checks in dark colors.  The reason for this is that in old Japan there were sumptuary laws which dictated how a person could dress and how they should conduct other aspects of their lives.  Most of the population was only allowed to wear dark, somber colors and cloth showing very little pattern, if any.  Therefore, shimacho usually reflect this societal dictate by showing scraps of hand woven cotton in dark colors.

This one contains lovely pieces of striped and checked hand loomed cotton cloth which date from the late nineteenth into the early twentieth century.

A wonderful thing to own.