A Very Good Narumi Kongata Apron: Hand Spun Cotton
ca. late nineteenth, early twentieth century
25 1/2" x 10", 65 cm x 25.5 cm
Narumi kongata is a type of stencil resist textile which uses multiple stencils--and therefore multiple resists--to create a pattern which resembles shibori, the tie-dyed or shape resist textiles many of you know. Narumi kongata is characterized by its patterns of soft, feathered edges, this feature being the result of much skilled artisanry. Narumi kongata textiles, due to their specialized artistry and labor intensive work, are prized in Japan--and are usually quite expensive.
This apron which is made from hand spun and hand loomed cotton--just exquisite--is dyed absolutely beautifully in the Narumi kongata technique: the cloth's resisted pattern, when viewed quickly, is a dead ringer for the shibori technique. In fact the pattern strives to mimic shibori--the vertically oriented zigzag pattern looks like small, tied shibori dots and the larger, soft white areas are meant to look like kumo or spiderweb shibori.
The color of the indigo is rich, warm and delicious. The toothy cotton lining is a light blue called asagi in Japan, and like good asagi, this is clear and clean.
The apron is small, and even though it appears to have been made for a child, apparently is was worn by an adult: it is less of an apron and more of an "under" coat as it was probably worn under a hanten or a happi and would have fit snugly on the body, reaching to the waist. A curious detail on this apron is a pocket which is hidden in one of the side seams.
This apron is in very good condition and is beautifully made. The Narumi kongata cloth is superbly beautiful.