A Very Good 19th Century Sashiko Stitched Fireman's Coat: Beautifully Worn
mid to late 19th century
45" x 46", 114.5 cm x 117 cm
What a beauty. This stunningly good old fireman's coat is large, heavy with layers and is entirely sashiko stitched: all the texture that can be seen on the surface of this coat is not the result of weaving, it is the result of hand stitching the entire surface of this 19th century coat. As many of you know, the reason for this coat being so thick with layers is so that it could be doused with water before fighting a fire, thus aiding in protecting the fireman from being burnt by flames.
The patina to the surface of this cloth is really beautiful: the indigo dyed cotton has faded and softened slightly, and there is a large swath of wear the proper, back center of the coat. And do not disregard the resist dyed decoration: keep in mind that this coat was entirely sashiko stitched and in the process of doing this the fabric of the coat contracts. Therefore, the circular insigna on the back of the coat (the kanji says "extinguish") needed to be designed longer and narrower than it looks here in order to compensate for its compression after stitching. Quite amazing.
This coat is said to come from Yamagata city in Tohoku or Northeast Japan. Have a look at the many photographs that accompany this posting, and peer inside the coat for a look at some of its mending.
A beautiful example of an authentic, well-used fireman's coat from old Japan which is good condition and is very handsome to look at.