A Tsutsugaki Dyed Panel: Tsurukame, Shochikubai and Family Crest
ca. late nineteenth century
75 1/2" x 19 1/4", 191.5 cm x 48.75 cm
This is a tsutstugaki dyed, indigo cotton boro piece--1 1/2 loom widths--that is as packed with auspicious symbols as it is beautiful.
The boro piece is taken from a yogi, or a kimono-shaped duvet cover, and we can tell this from certain indicators, the most obvious one being the length of cloth that is 1/2 loom width; this narrow slice of cloth is often used when creating a yogi as it offers more area to the large garment-shaped bedding.
Within the large, dominating, resist-dyed circle is the crossed arrow feather family crest. Under it we see a swooping crane, a richly rendered pine tree, a beautifully drawn turtle and some plum blossoms. At top of the piece we see a patch showing bamboo.
The images of pine, bamboo and plum are a classic trio of auspicious images called shochikubai, also known as the "winter friends." Often shochikubai was used on trousseau items as it conveys heavy symbolism for a newly-married couple. Plum shows courage as its blossoms, the first of the year, burst forth from under ice, the bamboo is resilience since it bends but does not break and the pine is a symbol of long life and also of a faithful marriage as its needles fall in pairs.
The turtle and crane are both symbols of long life, while the crane is also admired for its elegance and beauty. Also, the crane mates for life, so it is an apt symbol for conjugal fidelity.
There is a spray of small holes, each no larger than the head of match, here and there on the piece, but these holes do not in any way detract from the beauty and complexity of this wonderful, old, tsutsugaki textile.