A Shimacho or Album of Home Weaving Swatches: Dated 1865

$525.00 USD

the second year of the Japanese era Genji or equivalent to 1865 
when folded and closed: 11 1/2" x 4" x 1/2", 29 cm x 10 cm x 1.5 cm
when fully extended: 11 1/2" x 53", 29 cm x 134.5 cm

This is a spectacular object which is further exalted by the fact that we know the date is was made.

The Japanese era date, Genji 2 is handwritten on the cover of this accordion folded album. The folio is expertly hand crafted from recycled paper and its beautifully presented cover is in very good condition.

As can be seen by the dimensions noted above, when fully extended this shimacho or "stripe album" is impressively long. Within the book there are 10 "pages" that contain swatches of botanically dyed, hand woven cotton cloth, almost 200 in number.

A shimacho is said to be an album of home weaving that a bride takes from her family home when she's married and leaves her family to begin 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 shimacho is a rare example for the manner in which its constructed--most shimacho are made of recycled, bound books and this accordion construction is not the norm.

If you have the pleasure to actually handle this superbly crafted album you will notice small details that give pleasure in only the way a well-crafted object can.