A Short Length of Katazome Cotton: Complex Phoenix Design
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
27" x 13 1/4", 68.5 cm x 33.5 cm
This fragment of cloth shows a very complex design in a fairly large repeat. The design is that of the Chinese Buddhist phoenix or hoo-oo and its wildly splayed feathers occupy much of this design. Two full repeats are shown and two fragmentary repeats, one top, one bottom, are also shown.
The phoenix is rendered in white lines and is detailed with an orange tone: this orange tone is an iron oxide pigment called bengara that, when new, is quite bright and saturated in color. Shown here, the bengara is very washed out and displays just a trace of its former intensity. The indigo color is still very good and sturdy, however.
The cotton yarns of this hand woven fragment seem to be hand spun, which is a desirable trait in old Japanese folk cottons.
This fragment was taken from a large piece which no doubt would have been originally intended for use as futon cover.
A marvelously pictorial--and visually dynamic fragment of high quality katazome dyeing.