A Stenciled Length of 19th Century Cotton: Indigo and Bengara
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
30" x 12 3/4", 76 cm x 32.5 cm
This absolutely beautiful length of indigo dyed, hand spun and hand dyed cotton shows a ground of medium tone indigo over which is stenciled a pattern based on hexagons or tortoise shell pattern which is embellished with plum blossoms and what appear to be chrysanthemums.
The stenciled pattern is applied directly to the cloth using an iron-oxide pigment dye which in Japan is called bengara. When applied over the warm blue dyed cotton, the bengara pigment creates a wonderful, contrasting cool-warm tonal effect. In this case, the effect is also quite low-contrast as the tone of the red color is almost the same as that of the blue.
The cotton is of high quality and the length of cloth shows overall fading and light surface abrasion from decades of wear.