A Short Length of Katazome Dyed Hand Plied Asa: Bats and Well Covers
late nineteenth century
22 1/2" x 13 1/2", 57 cm x 34.25 cm
This short piece of well-worn, somewhat faded, relatively thickly woven, indigo dyed hemp or ramie cloth shows a highly collectible repeat image of dark and light bats who are frolicking among well cover motifs scaled in three sizes.
Bats in Japanese design are good symbols: the Japanese word for bat is a homophone for the word happiness and from the lighthearted positioning of these bats within the repeat image here we gain a sense of this wish for happiness.
Bat textiles are always in demand and this one was acquired not just for its fine rendering of the theme, but also because of the inherent beauty of the hemp or ramie threads used to weave the cloth. Most likely this rustic asa cloth is from Tohoku or Japan's rural Northeast region, and it may very possibly be from the Nambu area which produced a very distinctive katazome dyed cloth which looks like this.
A fantastic little chunk of rustic cloth from old Japan: super charming.