A Slender Shimacho of Few Pages: Stripe Album of Home Weaving
when closed: 7 1/4" x 5 1/2", 18.25 cm x 14 cm
-6 double sided pages in total
-3 full sides (1 1/2 pages) of samples
-1 page side, partial group of samples
-4 double sided pages, blank
Shimacho means, literally, "stripe album." The small, cotton swatches contained within it are usually striped cotton, or some variation on striped cotton.
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 cotton cloth which date from the early to mid twentieth century.
A wonderful thing to own.